USACE: Unity Island Dike Wall Opens

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, opened the stone dike wall between the Niagara River and Unity Island’s North Pond this week, which will allow fresh water from the Niagara River to enter the pond, providing better connectivity for aquatic species.

Photo by Katie Lewis, USACE

The opening is approximately 50 feet wide, at the water line, and will be reinforced with larger stone brought on site. The removed stone will be used in the creation of a reef at the bottom of the North Pond.

USACE said that a floating boom will be installed across the opening to prevent large debris from accumulating and to prevent boat access to the pond.

The dike opening is part of a broader effort to restore approximately 10 acres of coastal wetland habitat within Unity Island and provide access for fish and wildlife to move freely between the Niagara River and the waterbodies of Unity Island.

This habitat type, once abundant, is now scarce in the Niagara River and is critically important as spawning, nursery and foraging habitat for high value native fish populations such as Northern pike.

“We appreciate the patience of the public as we make a strong push to complete this project as quickly as possible,” said Sheila Hint, Project Manager. “We have many project partners working with us to make this happen, including the City of Buffalo, Niagara River Greenway Commission, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Since early May, USACE has been installing a new wetland habitat at the northeast corner of the north pond, using clean dredged materials from the upper reaches of the Buffalo River.

The “beneficial use” project is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes, and is being done in conjunction with an ongoing demonstration project at Unity Island to replace invasive species in the region with native species to help promote the expansion of native biodiversity.