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NYPA Launches Initiatives at Visitors Centers to Support Pollinators

June 21, 2023
The new habitats will better protect the bees, butterflies and other pollinators that support the healthy functioning of our ecosystems.

In recognition of National Pollinator Week, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced plans to establish new habitats for pollinators near its Niagara Power Vista in Lewiston and its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Visitors Center in Massena. The new habitats will better protect the bees, butterflies and other pollinators that support the healthy functioning of our ecosystems.

Fostering pollinator-friendly meadows, walking trails and exhibits near the Niagara and St. Lawrence hydropower projects, as well as along the Erie Canal, will help raise pollinator awareness throughout New York State while educating the public about NYPA’s long-standing role as an environmental steward. In addition, the Power Authority is installing an educational exhibit at its Niagara visitors center in support of native biodiversity. The projects complement NYPA’s ongoing pollinator research and pollinator-friendly vegetation management practices.

“Pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and many of the species we depend on are in decline,” said NYPA Acting President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “As the caretaker of large areas of land, NYPA is responsible for helping conserve native species and restoring their natural habitat. More native plantings and educational signage will encourage the entire community to better understand the importance of pollinators.”

The new initiatives are part of the Power Authority’s demonstrated long-term commitment to pollinators and align with New York State’s Pollinator Protection Plan and NYPA’s Sustainability Plan. A statewide pollinator program was launched three years ago with the planting of the Niagara Power Vista pollinator garden and is now expanding to incorporate an educational exhibit and the establishment of pollinator meadows at several Power Authority facilities.  

At the Niagara Power Vista, where the spring garden is in full bloom, plans are underway to install a new educational exhibit this summer to educate visitors on the importance of pollinators and environmental stewardship. Ten interactive signs covering topics like food webs, biotic interactions and habitat will be placed in the garden along with identification tags for native plants suitable for gardens in Western New York.

Seeding began this week to reestablish natural regrowth in six acres of meadows around the Niagara Power Project. The meadows will provide habitat for native wildlife and will require less mowing than traditional turf lawns, lowering maintenance needs and reducing carbon emissions from mowing equipment.

Similarly, at the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, meadows near the Nicandri Nature Center are being converted into fields hosting a wide variety of native plants favored by pollinators. NYPA will implement reduced mowing this summer over a 14-acre parcel to allow wildflower regrowth and natural succession of existing vegetation. A half-mile-long walking trail will be installed in the meadow for the public to enjoy viewing the pollinators, birds and other wildlife that use the habitat.

On June 3, NYPA and the Canal Corporation teamed up with more than two dozen volunteers from the Village of Brockport and Cornell Cooperative Extension to plant a native pollinator garden along the Erie Canal and Empire State Trail at Corbett Park. The new garden is an example of how the Power Authority and the Canal Corporation are supporting the native biodiversity of New York.

Elsewhere along the canal, three native pollinator meadows near Rochester will be seeded later this year. At Guy Park Manor, a living landscape is being designed to educate visitors about native habitats and water systems. At the Little Falls Connector, another project will install three educational gardens that highlight native vegetation and landscape features, while augmenting episodic plantings and gardens that explicitly support pollinators.

Earlier this year, NYPA completed a rigorous assessment of monarch butterfly habitat quality across all NYPA and canals land. The assessment used a cutting-edge model developed by EPRI to identify locations where NYPA property currently supports the species. The results can be used to identify additional opportunities to support monarch butterflies, which have experienced drastic population decline over the past two decades. 

NYPA also actively participates in EPRI’s Power in Pollinators initiative, which funds scientific research on pollinator ecology and fosters collaboration among peer utilities to help integrate high quality pollinator habitat and conservation measures with power generation and delivery.

NYPA has been promoting pollinator habitat along its transmission line rights of way for more than 25 years as part of its integrated vegetation management practices. Practices encourage the growth of stable plant communities that provide habitat for diverse wildlife while also ensuring the safe and reliable transmission of power.

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