Evangola State Park Wetlands Project
The reconstruction of a section of I-90 near Lake Erie, south of Buffalo, required the permanent loss of select areas of natural wetlands along the highway corridor. To compensate for this loss, in 2010 the Thruway Authority -- working with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation -- completed an innovative wetlands mitigation project at Evangola State Park on Lake Erie.
The 3 acres of created wetlands within the state park will attract a variety of wildlife and improve habitat diversity while helping to restore the natural food chain in the area. Park patrons will have more opportunities to observe wildlife in this natural setting.
The created wetland habitat provides a stopover for migrating waterfowl as well as a breeding habitat for migratory and nesting bird species. The mitigation site provides a summer and winter home for frogs, toads, and salamanders, among other wildlife.
Since the late 1980s, the Thruway Authority has had falcon nesting boxes installed on the main trusses of four major bridges along the Thruway system. The bridges are the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, 13 miles north of New York City; the Castleton Bridge that spans the Hudson south of Albany; and the South Grand Island Bridge and the North Grand Island Bridge, both of which cross the Niagara River.
It is a symbiotic relationship. The bridges provide high vantage points for these birds of prey while creating a safe nesting zone away from human interference. The presence of the falcons keeps pigeons off the bridges which helps because pigeon droppings are harmful to the paint and steel of the structure. Since the program's inception, the number of pigeons nesting on bridges has dramatically decreased.
Each year approximately $23 billion nationwide is lost to invasive plant impacts to agriculture, industry, recreation, and the environment, according to the Federal Highway Administration. An estimated 4,600 acres of land are invaded daily by invasive plants.
In 2008, the Canal Corporation, operator of the Champlain Canal, entered a partnership with agencies of the state of Vermont and the federal government to coordinate efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species. Among the concerns are the discharge of ballast that may carry non-native species. For more information about the Lake Champlain Basin Program visit: http://www.lcbp.org/impofa.htm.
The Canal Corporation and Thruway Authority are actively involved in Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) that examines the impacts of invasive species on the watersheds of the Finger Lakes, Capital Region/Mohawk, and St. Lawrence River and Eastern Lake Ontario systems.
The Thruway Authority takes care during maintenance activities such as ditch cleaning and culvert work to prevent the inadvertent spread of invasive species to unspoiled areas. Among the preventive measures employed are: washing vehicles and equipment before being moved from one site to another; monitoring soil movement and stockpiling for invasive species; and providing special protection to pristine, invasive-free areas, especially wetlands.
More information on invasive species in New York State can be found at the New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse website, at: http://nyis.info/.
Living Snow Fence Program
Blowing and drifting snow can be a safety hazard for the traveling public on any highway. One way the Thruway Authority has addressed the issue is to install “living snow fences” parallel to the highway. Rows and clusters of willow trees and evergreens are strategically planted in areas prone to heavy snow fall and blowing and drifting snow. These densely planted configurations trap some of the snow and dissipate blowing snow before it can collect on the highway.
The first living snow fences were installed in 2006 in collaboration with the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, along the I-90 right-of-way at Exit 18A and Exit 20 in the Town of Grand Island, Erie County.
Currently there are more than 5,600 willows and 1,400 conifers located along over 18,000 feet of the Thruway right-of-way, with more potential locations identified each year.
Shoreline Stabilization Project
Wave action and ice scouring had begun to erode the shoreline of Lake Erie in the vicinity of the Black Rock Canal. The shoreline storm water drainage from I-190 in Buffalo was found to be contributing to erosion of the shoreline of the Black Rock Canal where it intersects with Lake Erie.
To help correct the problem, the Thruway Authority – in cooperation with the State University of New York College at Buffalo – in 2006 installed heavy stone fill to protect 300 feet of the shoreline near storm water outfall drainage from I-190 in Buffalo.
The shoreline stabilization will prevent further erosion and sedimentation and promote the natural restoration of valuable spawning and nursery habitat for a variety of warm water fish species and aquatic invertebrates.