Niagara Gorge to be restored to natural beauty

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Niagara Gorge is a treasured landmark. Some say it has been ignored for decades.

But, a pro-active restoration project is bringing new life to the scenic jewel.

Monday night, the Western New York Land Conservancy unveiled a three year ‘Restore the Gorge project’ in an effort to replace invasive plants with native plants.

“It creates habitat for butterflies and for birds and for other wildlife and is also important for water quality,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of WNY Land Conservancy.

Officials say for the last 50 years invasive plants from around the globe have taken over the Niagara Gorge causing erosion.

“It’s history, it’s ecology, it’s just peacefulness, to go down there and be so close to the water. It’s been ignored for so long and it’s just kind of gone to seed,” said Mike Alspaugh, Buffalo resident.

“This project is an amazingly long time coming, invasive’s have decimated the landscape,” said Kathleen Contrino, former Niagara County resident.

The land conservancy says the more than $2 million project will reestablish a healthier gorge and the work will even coincide with the city’s project to remove the Niagara Scenic Parkway.

“I think the two combine really well together because there will be new public access and new connections to the gorge from the community and we’ll be enhancing the habitats at the same time the project is taking place,” said Smith.

Residents and officials say with both projects in the works, Niagara Falls will see a boost in tourism.

“It will become more of a jewel, return to the jewel it use to be,” said Steven Apfelbaum, Ecologist.

“They’ll come, you build it, they’ll come, you market it, they’ll come,” said Contrino.

The project is funded by the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, Yahoo and the Buffalo Billion Two.

Work on the ground is expected to begin later this winter.

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