Ryan Introduces Legislation to Make Buffalo River Eligible for State Grant Funding

Surprisingly, Buffalo River not included on list of major rivers eligible for state funding under the Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program
Ryan: Buffalo River must be included in state funding decisions
February 15, 2012

On Wednesday February 15, 2012, New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan introduced a bill in the Assembly to amend state law to add the Buffalo River to the list that defines inland waterways. Currently, the list does not include the Buffalo River, which means it is not eligible for grants under the New York State Environmental Protection Fund's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (EPF-LWRP). Important and well known waterways such as the Mohawk River, the Hudson River, and Chautauqua Lake, just to name a few, are currently on the New York State List of Designated Inland Waterways. The Buffalo River has somehow never been added to this list, despite its significant importance to the Western New York region.

“Buffalo’s history has always been defined by its waterfront,” said Assemblyman Ryan. “From the early days when the Buffalo River played the vital role in shaping our city, to today’s efforts to restore the beauty of the river after decades of neglect, Buffalo and its river are intrinsically linked. It is time to add the Buffalo River to the list of designated inland waterways so that the Buffalo River, like so many great waterways around the state, can be eligible for state funding that will help to protect and preserve the river for years to come.”

"The legislation put forth by Assemblyman Ryan is a great example of the continued support our elected leaders have demonstrated for the ongoing restoration of the Buffalo River,” said Jill Spisiak Jedlicka, Director of Ecological Programs & Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan Coordinator for the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “Simple, yet meaningful actions such as this will only benefit our City and help our community pursue opportunities for both economic and environmental revitalization efforts along this historically and ecologically significant river."

The EPF-LWRP has been administered by the New York State Department of State since 1994. Since the programs inception, 1,164 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grants have been awarded totaling more than $169 million. If the Buffalo River is added to the list, the City of Buffalo and groups like Riverkeeper will be eligible for funding to improve the Buffalo River and the surrounding land. Buffalo and Riverkeeper currently have an EPF-LWRP grant to work on the Buffalo River Greenway plan, but they were only eligible for this funding because it was specifically to be used only for planning. Adding the Buffalo River to the list of designated waterways will allow for funding to do work on actual projects such as public access, recreation and sewer improvements. Before becoming a member of the Assembly, Assemblyman Ryan worked with the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper on issues important regarding the continued health and ongoing restoration of the river.

“Millions of dollars in grants are handed out by New York State each and every year,” Ryan added. “Local municipalities across the state are able to take advantage of this funding to assist with efforts to improve their waterways, whether they are rivers, streams, or lakes. The Buffalo River is missing out on critical funding every single year, and that needs to end now. With all the great revitalization efforts currently underway to bring the Buffalo River back to its former glory, just think of the great things that additional funding can do to improve the river, and bring about new economic development opportunities. I hope my colleagues will overwhelmingly support this legislation when it comes up for a vote.”

Assemblyman Ryan’s legislation is A.09297. For more information, please contact Assemblyman Ryan’s Buffalo office at 716.885.9630.