What is Habitat Restoration?
Starting in the 1800’s and continuing through today, human activities have altered our landscape including our waterways. Many dams were constructed, streams were straightened, streambanks were hardened, riparian woody habitat was removed, and many road crossings created barriers to fish. These activities fragmented and degraded river ecosystems and affect both resident and migratory fishes. In many cases the activities no longer exist, but the stream habitat remains degraded and fragmented.
The Aquatic Habitat Restoration Program is a voluntary program providing technical and financial assistance to protect and improve aquatic habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. The program partners with federal, state, and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, private groups and individuals to identify, develop, and implement aquatic habitat restoration projects on private and public lands in the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario watersheds in New York and Pennsylvania.
The program focuses on habitat improvement projects that benefit native species, especially priority species (e.g. brook trout, lake sturgeon, lake trout and several mussel species), Federal threatened and endangered species, interjurisdictional fishes, and other special species. Projects with significant ecological benefits or improvements to recreational fisheries are also favored.
What Do We Do?
Remove dams to re-establish habitat connectivity and restore fish passage
Assess road-stream crossings to identify barriers to aquatic organism passage
Replace or retro-fit road crossings to improve fish passage
Conduct stream habitat and function assessments
Restore stream, riparian, floodplain and wetland habitat and function
Monitor biological response to habitat improvements
The Schoolyard Habitat Program works with schools and partner organizations to design and establish natural habitat on school grounds throughout Western New York. See Schoolyard Habitats page for more information.