Grand Island state park work recognized

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Jun. 10—Habitat restoration projects at Buckhorn Island and Beaver Island state parks in Grand Island have been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York for engineering excellence.

ACEC is a coalition of nearly 300 engineering firms across New York state.

"We strive to construct top quality engineering projects that improve the health of the natural environment of State Parks, increase our resilience to climate change, and support outdoor recreational experiences for park visitors," said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. "The award-winning mapping and design work from WSP USA Inc. for the projects at Beaver Island and Buckhorn Island State Parks is evidence of that."

WSP USA Inc., a consulting engineering firm for State Parks, received a Platinum Award in Surveying and Mapping Technology for its mapping contributions to the Burnt Ship Creek Habitat Enhancement Project at Buckhorn Island State Park. The project involved drone-based mapping technology that expediated preliminary construction logistics without impacting marsh habitat. Drone mapping during construction also captured the efforts to improve aquatic connectivity within the project area, which greatly benefits the important marsh ecosystem within the park.

The Niagara River Corridor is an Audubon Important Bird Area of global priority, due in part to a remarkable diversity of waterfowl.

WSP USA Inc. also received a Gold Award in Water Resources for its contributions to the East River Marsh Habitat Enhancement Project at Beaver Island State Park. State Parks contracted the firm to design plans and specifications, develop permit applications, and provide bidding and engineering support during construction of a habitat project that built barrier rock reefs, restored the Niagara River shoreline, and expanded existing trails in the park.

The rock reefs serve to limit erosion of the shoreline and provide areas of calm water for paddlers, native plants, and fish habitat. Native plantings and fish structures were also used to restore shoreline habitat. Trails near the shoreline were expanded and restored, allowing for safer and more enjoyable walkways for bird watching and other recreational activities.

The projects were funded from the Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as part of a $11.2 million GLRI grant awarded to State Parks for multiple projects in the Niagara River "Area of Concern," which was designated by the EPA in 1987 due to environmental degradation.

Buckhorn Island State Park is located on 895 acres at the northern tip of Grand Island. Beaver Island State Park is located on 950 acres at the southern tip of the island. For more information, visit www.parks.ny.gov.