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Featured Project: Buffalo River Watershed Erosion and Sediment Control Project

Grantee: Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District
State: NY
GLRI Program Funds: $180,000
Project Year: 2011
Contact Information: James Sroka

The Buffalo River Watershed Erosion and Sediment Control Project was selected for funding under the 2011 Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Watershed Program and is being managed by the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District based in East Aurora, New York, located south of Buffalo. The project focuses on the restoration of eight existing, severely damaged streambank stabilization structures referred to as 'joint board' sites after the combined Erie-Wyoming County Joint Board of Directors that oversee the projects.

During construction
Joint Board 62L before and during construction
Installed in the 1960's by the Soil Conservation Service, several hundred sites line approximately 57 miles of streambank throughout the Buffalo River Watershed - encompassing the Buffalo, Cazenovia and Cayuga Creek subwatersheds.
Joint Board 62L after construction
The main purpose of the historical program was to reduce silt and sedimentation in the Buffalo River portion of the Buffalo Harbor by controlling streambank erosion and by promoting best management practices on farms and riparian properties throughout the watershed. These 50+ year old structures have taken alot of punishment from stream and ice flow over the years and many are still in good condition however several require immediate attention in order to stabilize erosion and reduce sediments from entering the stream. Factoring a 20 year anticipated lifespan of the installed best management practices - although typically longer, it is anticipated that the eight restored sites will reduce approximately 4,780 tons of sediments from entering the Buffalo River watershed.

During construction
Joint Board 63R before and during construction

The 2012 construction season saw work completed at three sites situated along a large meander bend on Buffalo Creek in the Town of Java in Wyoming County. Joint Board 62L and 63R were stabilized using longitudinal peaked stone to protect the toe of the bank up to the approximate bankfull elevation.

Joint Board 63R after construction
The combined rock protection from both sites totaled 450 linear feet in length, 4 feet in height with the front face of the rock shaped to a 2H:1V slope. Longitudinal peaked stone was the selected best management practice for these two sites because this technique allowed the bank to be built out as the erosion had scoured deep into the banks as well as to create an appropriate channel alignment. Local gravel bar deposits were utilized to backfill behind the rock and the upper banks were graded into the back of the peaked stone creating a low floodplain bench. Willow whips were also installed to extend out and over the peaked stone to improve the riparian vegetation, provide shade over the rock when mature and enhance the soil stability above and behind the rock.
During construction
Joint Board 64R before and during construction
At the last site, Joint Board 64R, the more common toe and slope rock protection was the chosen bmp because the thalweg was situated close to the toe of the bank. A 3 foot by 3 foot rock toe was installed along 200 linear feet of the stream with slope rock protection extending 5 feet up the 2H:1V reshaped bank.
Joint Board 64R after construction

The three projects were promptly seeded and mulched after all rock installation was completed and all the upper banks were planted with multiple rows of willow live stakes.

The projects were promptly tested by mother nature two weeks after construction ended as heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy brought potentially damaging flows but thankfully all three sites held up very well through the storm.


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. GLIN Partner