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Conservation & Sustainability

Erie County Department of Parks implements many conservation and sustainability initiatives and practices throughout the entire park system, ranging from the type of equipment we use to our practices in the field.

Learn more about each approach, as well as our key partners in these efforts, below!

Buffalo River Area-of-Concern 

The Buffalo River received the official designation of "Area of Concern" due to decades of industrial and run-off pollution impacting the sediment and water quality of the River. Erie County Parks owns and manages several park and habitat areas along the Buffalo River and works with key partners to implement remediation, recreation, living shoreline, and other improvements and outreach efforts for the public. 


Key Partner(s):

- Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper

- Erie County Department of Environment and Planning

- NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation 

- Friends of Times Beach

- Friends of Red Jacket Park

- Friends of Seneca Bluffs


Focus Parks and Areas:

- Red Jacket River Front Park

- Seneca Bluffs Habitat Park

- Thomas Higgins Natural Habitat Park

- Times Beach Nature Preserve

Invasive Species 

   Key Partner: WNY PRISM

   Key Strategies: 

- Manual and Chemical Treatment

- Citizen Science - Reporting and Monitoring

- Bootbrush Stations (learn more HERE)


Environmental Education

Environmental Education is implemented mainly through our Park Ranger Public Programs, which are offered Winter, Spring, and Fall, and tabling events, which take place at Santa Land, Winter Fest, Maple Fest, and Fall Fest! Customized programs can be requested for schools, scout groups, senior groups, and recreation clubs by submitting a Special Event Application Form. For more information on upcoming public Park Ranger events and hikes, visit our EVENTS PAGE and follow our Social Media channels for program announcements! 

Climate Friendly Initiatives

Most of the Erie County Parks Department climate-friendly initiatives are funded by the Erie County Green Team, an initiative of the Erie County Dept. of Environment and Planning. Some recent climate-friendly projects have included the following:

- Purchase of electric equipment such as trimmers, mowers, and UTV's

- Purchase and installation of recycling bins at rentable buildings and visitor centers

Natural Regeneration Area Program

Erie County Parks implemented a No/Low Mow and Natural Regeneration Area Program in 2022, in accordance with best practices in public parks across the country. This Program accomplishes several goals:

1) Reduces carbon footprint by reducing use of mowers, trimmers, and other maintenance equipment;

2) Encourages habitat growth by allowing grassland and meadow habitats to grow;

3) Saves time and money by reducing the time and equipment used to mow areas not utilized for recreation and other needs.

To date, the No/Low Mow Program has proven successful in meeting all of its goals, and has been credited with encouraging the return of certain grassland/meadow species such as the Bobolink!

Look for "Natural Regeneration Area" stakes in the parks!

Wildflower Areas

In partnership with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Erie County Parks has established a Wildflower Demonstration Project at Ellicott Creek Park. This project was, initially, intended to test seed mixes with the goal of implementing additional demonstrations and plantings throughout the Park system. To date, wildflowers are planted in many areas, often in conjunction with our Natural Regeneration Area Program. 

Forestry Practices

Erie County Parks includes the Bureau of Forestry. The County Forester is responsible for management of almost 6,000 acres of public forest land, in addition to Habitat Parks throughout the County. In addition to forest management and invasive species treatment, reforestation is an important goal of the Bureau of Forestry, and tree plantings take place based on priority in the Fall and Spring. The Commemorative Tree Program is part of our larger effort to plant as many new trees in our Parks as possible, particularly as we battle the Emerald Ash Borer and address the devastating impacts of that pest.