A Wetland That Works

Located 25 miles south of Buffalo, N.Y., along the Lake Erie shoreline, the New York State (NYS) Thruway Authority made improvements to Interstate 90 (I-90), a project that inadvertently affected about 2 acres of emergent marsh wetlands in the area.

In order to mitigate these adverse impacts on the marsh habitat, the Thruway Authority teamed up with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Watts Architecture & Engineering to reclaim a dry, rocky, flat fill area and transform it into a valuable and productive habitat. Taking advantage of the area’s natural hydrology and terrain, landscape engineers created a 3-acre wetland along Evangola State Park’s entrance. This new habitat feature is home to various amphibian, reptile, and fish species, as well as a nesting and foraging site for a variety of birds and ducks.

The Value Of Wetlands

Wetlands play an important role in the environment, including ecosystem services that are valuable to humans. Wetlands act as a water-purification system, flood control, and they improve the stability of the shoreline. Wetlands are also often the most biologically diverse ecosystems in a region, serving as home to a wide range of plants and animals. In New York, wetlands are also used as stopovers for migrating birds, as a breeding habitat for these birds and others that nest in wetlands.

This wetland at Evangola is a feature that also presents various opportunities for ecological study to school groups, summer camps, and scout troops that visit the park. A hands-on outdoor classroom allows students to gain first-hand experiential knowledge of this important ecosystem.

Worth Noting

Some features include walking trails and interpretive signs detailing the project site. The design included the relocation of two holes on the park's disc golf course, which ensured that activity on the course will not conflict with the newly constructed wetland.

The project’s overwhelming success prompted the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of New York to present the Gold Award for Engineering Excellence to Watts Architecture & Engineering and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. This was the first landscape project to ever win the prestigious award. The award was a nod to the project’s excellent design and the educational opportunities it created.

The wetlands creation was part of the overall $91-million I-90 construction project.

Submitted by Watts Architecture & Engineering