EDITORIAL: Niagara Gorge ‘Renewal’ Likely to Destroy Beauty of the Gorge

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Niagara Gorge ‘Renewal’ likely to destroy beauty of the gorge as it kills almost every tree


There is a program in progress to “remove non-native species” from the gorge and “beautify” it.
If you go for a hike between the Whirlpool bridge and the sewage plant, you may notice that almost every tree has been girdled (killed). This section of the gorge
will likely be nothing but dead trees next spring.
They will turn a beautiful forest into a barren rocky wasteland.

“I am heartbroken and appalled” said one hiker who saw this monstrous deforestation. “The gorge is one of the hidden gems of Niagara Falls and what they’ve done is terrible.”

Another local who brought her children down to enjoy nature shared a similar sentiment.  She had heard of the restoration program, but had no idea that it would entail mass deforestation.
Unfortunately girdling is 100% fatal to the tree – the leaves falling off the trees as you read this are likely the last leaves they will ever have, there is no turning back.
This begs the question: Is every tree in the gorge non-native? Why would they do this? What could be going on?
We will have to follow the money trail to find out who is going to profit from this killing a living forest – that for years thrived on the walls of the gorge.
A hiker said, “I’m upset about enough about this to lose sleep. This whole thing stinks.”

There was a feasibility study done on local species restoration by the New York Power Authority in 2008. ( http://niagara.nypa.gov/RTE.pdf ).  At  section 4.2.1 it states that

“community-level restoration throughout the Niagara gorge and gorge rim is not likely feasible.”

Apparently $1M was awarded from the Buffalo Billion, and $1M from the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and given to the Western New York Land Conservancy for their “Restore The Gorge” project.

They’ve hired a landscape designer and have made hopeful promises about how beautiful the forest will be once they kill all the present trees and then plant the little trees and when they grow up.
In some 50 years, we may be glad we killed the forest.
In the present, the project entails two phases: 1) Removal of invasive species, and 2) planting of native species.
They are currently in Phase One of this project – and it appears that that’s all they have funding for.
This situation reminds one of the “Urban Renewal” that once took place in Niagara Falls. They knocked down half the city – historic buildings that were functional and gave the city ambiance and warmth and replaced it mostly with empty fields and a convention center – a largely vacant mall – which the state gave away for $1 to the Senecas and a mall which has been mostly vacant for decades. .
Urban Renewal in Niagara Falls was a terrible idea; the funds dried up.They never built anything and did irreparable damage to the local economy.
Now they’re doing it again to the gorge.
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