The development proposal involves a 3 story senior apartment complex and additional buildings on 6.6 acres of forested land in the Klydel Wetland near Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda, New York. A wetland this size is a rare phenomenon in a city the size of North Tonawanda. The 70-acre Klydel Wetlands, just north of the North Tonawanda Senior High School is protected by federal law and comes under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This area has been the target of at least five development projects in the past four years, including a 1996 proposal by Benderson Development Co. of Buffalo to build a Tops supermarket on the site. Citizens were expecting this sort of activity, as the land was being cleared in January. At that time it was with the understanding that the activity was selective cutting and the lumber was donated to a local charity to build facilities that would be used for handicapped children. Now the owner wants to build a retirement home on that piece of land.
Benefits of wetlands are often unknown, and therefore, in my opinion, not recognized when decisions are made concerning when or where to build. Wetlands are transitional areas between land and water. The publication, “How Wet Is a Wetland?” by The Environmental Defense Fund of New York City and the World Wildlife Fund of Washington, DC, describes wetlands as a vital link between uplands and deeper waters and form an intrinsic part of the aquatic part of the aquatic system. Many wetlands exist because floodwaters reach them only when streams and rivers are full.
Flooding causes billions of dollars in damages and loss of lives. Wetlands provide natural flood control by detaining floodwaters, which reduces floodpeaks, and by slowing floodwaters, which reduces their destructiveness. When wetlands are filled in and developed, the water can cause more damage than need be, if wetlands are allowed to co-exist with progress they can help alleviate the high costs of damages due to flooding.
Water quality is dependent on wetlands, because they filter sediments and nutrients. Artificial means of controlling pollution are expensive. If wetlands were allowed to co-exist with progress, this cost could also be minimized.
The diversity of plants and wildlife in wetlands are directly affected with the “filling in” of wetlands. Species are jeopardized, and endangered species are at the highest risk of becoming extinct due to loss of habitat and food sources obtained in wetlands. Wetlands also provide wintering grounds, migratory resting grounds and breeding grounds for birds. Fish are affected because wetlands provide flood refuge and food supplies, they also provide the water quality needed for protection in rearing salmon. Some plants, called “obligates”, are found only in wetlands. Besides diverting large amounts of water, wetlands also provide a valuable pool of vegetation.
A colleague and I visited the Klydel Wetland site during an early morning protest and informational picket! Students, teachers, and citizens dedicated to saving a forested wetland from a development proposal gathered to disseminate information and rally support for the wetland across the road from the North Tonawanda High School.
Please read the notice for more information on the proposal and hearing process. A copy has been posted on the web site of Citizens for a Green North Tonawanda at: http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Vines/3317/permitapplication.html.
Maria R Maybee, Habitat and Biodiversity Coordinator Assistant, Great Lakes United, Cassety Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222, Tel: 716-886-0142 , Fax: 716-886-0303, Web: www.glu.org