Fireworks along the gorges | Local News
New York asters are unmistakable this time of year. Bursts of brilliant purple with yellow centers accented by nearby clusters of white asters against a goldenrod background, the unmistakable colors of wildflowers in fall.
As spectacular as these floral fireworks are, that’s not what thrills Andy Lance, restoration environmentalist for the WNY Land Conservancy.
The leader of the massive Niagara River Gorge native flora restoration project is more excited about a less descriptive little plant that blooms just below its cousins, the sky blue aster, an endangered species that grows among the wild flowers along the gorge not far from DeVeaux les bois.
The factory is finicky, Lance explained. It requires open habitat, not woods. Annual mowing of some sort helps.
Whether it appeared because of dormant seeds in the soil that sprouted when conditions were favorable, or because it was included in some of the 400 pounds of wildflower seeds spread through the project has not been determined. ‘importance. It’s here and Lance is happy.
This annual mowing takes place from late fall to early winter once the seeds have dried and are ready to repel or feed native birds and rodents.
According to the State Parks Department, there are approximately 16 known rare plant species, 3 rare fish, 2 rare mussels, and 2 rare bird species that use the gorge or islands to breed.
Lance divides his time between the gorge and the Marjory Gallogly Nature Reserve on Grand Island.
Along the gorges, the panoramas are totally modified thanks to the elimination of honeysuckle, buckthorn and Norway maple. Buckthorn is particularly difficult because birds love the berries and spread the seeds.
A new plot sown last year near Findlay and Whirlpool should delight the spring. Among the plants placed are lemon balm, mountain mint, thimble and evening primrose.
Lance might better be nicknamed “Andy Tree Seed” for the way he leaves hardwood behind. The trees planted in the gorge are for the most part what occurs naturally there, the bird cherry. Red oak, white oak and hackberry.
Part of the gorge will probably never be fully restored. The remnants of the Niagara Scenic Railway have faded over time, but concrete footings and junk remain. Just north of the Maid of the Mist docks, heaps of vintage car parts are being scavenged by nature. As far as the state is concerned, these auto parts and other industrial remains of the industrial heritage of the gorge are not worth commenting on as the restoration has been limited to the rim and walls of the gorge.
Lance said the next phase of land conservation will be to do more work along the areas between the gorge rim and Whirlpool Street / Niagara Scenic Parkway.
A State Parks spokesperson said they were in the early stages of planning to remove the rest of the old Robert Moses Parkway. While the project is planned, no one can say when it will be finished, how long it will take or who will pay for it.
The boardwalk is currently a bumpy boardwalk with grass growing across the sidewalk in some sections. Route 104 remains a smoother route to Lewiston. In view of the impending deletion / redesign, The Gazette asked the State Department of Transportation if it was being negligently demolished.
Susan Surdey, PE is Assistant to the Regional Director and Regional Public Information Officer for the State DOT.
His answer was terse.
“The New York State Department of Transportation regularly monitors conditions on the Niagara Scenic Parkway and performs maintenance as needed,” she said in an email, without further comment.