Seneca Bluffs Park is located along Seneca Street in Buffalo, N.Y., and borders the Buffalo River. Since Aug. 2016, the Buffalo District's NY/PA Construction Office has managed a project at this park, which is a staple in the surrounding community. The Seneca Bluffs Habitat Restoration Project is entering its final year of construction as the contractor is finishing invasive treatment this summer and will be planting the final shrub clusters in the fall. To date, work on the park's lower terrace has consisted of riverbank stabilization, habitat improvements, creation of a wetland area, enhancement of the small recreation boat launch, and removal of invasive species, namely Phragmites and Japanese Knotweed.

This $1.4 million project, which is fully funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is also supported by a number of programs such as Great Lakes Restoration, Erie County, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan, and USACE. Overall this restoration project should help the Erie County Parks Department make the park a safer and more inviting place for visitors, as well as contribute to the surrounding habitat along the Buffalo River.

Another event that helps keep the park clean is Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper's Earth Day Cleanup, where Seneca Bluffs Park is one of many locations volunteers can sign up for in Erie County. This year the cleanup event took place on Saturday, Apr. 21, 2018, and USACE was on site to educate the volunteers about our active construction zones and make sure recently installed live stakes were not trampled. Since the park is owned by Erie County Parks Department, all supplies (trash bags, gloves, etc.) are provided by them and their representative runs the event. Due to the construction project, this year was the second year USACE had a presence for the cleanup event.

The turnout for this tiny park was amazing! About 20 people over the age of 16 volunteered their time to clean up the park from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Some came for volunteer credit for college applications, while others were caring citizens from the neighborhood looking to make their community park a little better. For me, it was a pleasure engaging with the local community and shining some light on a USACE project that is contributing to the area. As my dog, Hogan, and I cleaned up the park alongside the volunteers, multiple people stopped us to ask about the habitat restoration project's progress, design components, and future goals for the park.

At the end of the two hours, the volunteers had assembled a mountain of trash that was removed from the park. Trash included about 15 tires, 15 trash bags, and 8 recycling bags. This may sound like a lot, but last year was almost double that amount and included several needles requiring special disposal. It was very encouraging to see a reduction of trash in the park compared to last year, and I can't help but think that our restoration project made an impact. Clearing out the invasive plants really opens up the park and no longer provides cover for people to hide or store trash. This makes the park safer and cleaner for visitors and park rangers that patrol the area. As USACE starts wrapping up this project in FY19, I encourage coworkers to visit the park and see the improvements first hand. Perhaps even volunteer for the cleanup event yourself next year!