Restoring historic Scajaquada Creek one scoop at a time

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The trashing of Scajaquada Creek didn’t happen overnight, and stewards of the 13-mile long stream know restoring the creek is a long term project.

So Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is working on a long term plan to restore some of the natural beauty to Scajaquada Creek, but they also know it’s going to take help from some of Buffalo’s eastern suburbs to make that happen.

Thursday a crew from Buffalo’s Department of Public Works (DPW) was using a crane to scoop tons of debris from the creek snared by the metal trash grate where the Scajaquada flows into Delaware Park’s Hoyt Lake.

Riverkeeper’s executive director Jill Jedlicka found it hard to accept this is the same stream– wreaking of a cesspool-like stench–also meanders through Forest Lawn Cemetery, surrounded by so much natural beauty, as the stench of the debris.

“Like standing right here and be overwhelmed by the smell, but just 100 yards upstream, you can walk through Forest Lawn and the serentiy of being in the waterfall areas, and not realize you are in the same creek system,” Jedlicka said.

Jedlicka and Stephanie Crockatt, the acting director for the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, are working to clean Scajaquada Creek up.

It might seem like paddling upstream sometimes, but they believe preserving this babbling brook is worth it.

“You’ve got a waterfall, you’ve got a lot of birds and birding,” said Crockatt, about the natural wonder, which is also populated with wildlife including steelhead trout, which swim upstream from Lake Erie to spawn at the cemetery.

The Olmsted Conservancy has a seasonal worker whose main job is monitoring the trash rack, and when the debris builds up, park staff contact the DPW to clean it up, or call for a surface skimmer to remove the toxic algae bloom.

Crockatt has her own way of describing the algae, “for lack of a better word, ‘scum’ on the surface. He will also then contact the city, and they will notify the sewer authority.”

Jedlicka explained one plan Riverkeeper is seriously considering: spreading out the banks of the creek, and restoring the area to its historic wetlands state.

“Because wetlands are nature’s kidneys–they are natural kidneys–and they filter things out. So if we can restore the ecology and also manage the water quality, and improve the quality of life that people use this site, that is a great solution for everyone.” Jedlicka said.

A lot of that debris actually comes from miles upstream, from places like Lancaster, Cheektowaga, and Depew.

Heavy rains lead to sewers overflowing, and those are the subject of court proceedings, so Jill and Stephanie say they still have a long way to go.

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