NYPA President and CEO and Ecological Standing Committee Mark Latest Greenway Funding at Ceremonial Check Presentation
January 20, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUFFALO—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel Wednesday presented a ceremonial check for $1 million payable to the Greenway Ecological Fund, symbolizing a portion of NYPA’s annual funding in support of the Niagara River Greenway, which stretches from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.
Under the commitments made in conjunction with its Niagara Power Project operating license, NYPA pledged to contribute a total of $450 million for Greenway development over the period of the project’s 50-year license. The Greenway Ecological Fund, one of four Greenway funds, is administered by the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee (GESC). NYPA’s latest $1 million payment to the ecological fund will bring to $3 million the total funding made available to date by the Power Authority for projects approved by the GESC.
Among those joining Kessel at the check presentation was Margaret Wooster, GESC co-chairperson and habitat coordinator of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. The event was held at the Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo, where a project approved last year by the GESC for prior NYPA Greenway funding involves tree regeneration to enhance the habitat for birds, especially migratory songbirds.
“The Power Authority is dedicated to working with the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and the three other standing committees that were created to disburse NYPA funding for advancing a wide range of environmentally beneficial projects within the Greenway,” Kessel said. “The value of this funding is underscored by these challenging fiscal times when New York State is working to close a multibillion dollar budget gap. Our latest annual payment of $1 million to the Greenway Ecological Fund will support new Greenway projects as we continue to partner with local, state and federal organizations to enhance park and conservation areas along the Niagara riverfront and further add to the natural beauty and special wonders of the Niagara River corridor.”
“I want to thank Richard Kessel and the Power Authority Trustees for their support of ecological projects for helping to redefine the Niagara River region,” Wooster said. “The crucial funding from the Power Authority underpins key projects for ensuring clean water, healthy environments and improved access to riverfront areas and the creation of a Greenway.”
“The relicensing of the Niagara Power Project provided the Power Authority with additional opportunities to contribute to a full range of area initiatives in support of the Niagara River Greenway Plan,” said D. Patrick Curley, a NYPA trustee and resident of Orchard Park. “We’re delighted by the progress that’s been made by the key stakeholders for advancing these efforts and to be supporting the important work of our Western New York partners, including the Niagara River Greenway Commission [NRGC], on which I serve as NYPA’s representative.”
“The Power Authority recognizes the importance of contributing to the cooperative efforts of area groups in support of the Greenway within Erie and Niagara counties,” said Elise M. Cusack of Eggertsville, another NYPA trustee from Western New York. “This is of vital interest to not only Western New York but the state as whole considering the Niagara River corridor’s ecological, cultural and economic importance.”
The latest $1 million payment by NYPA to the Greenway Ecological Fund will be applied to projects previously approved by the GESC and could be available for newly proposed initiatives.
Projects in various stages of development from GESC disbursements of NYPA funding, and the award amounts in 2009, include a study of the habitat of the muskellunge, a species of concern in the upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor ($118,894); a three-year program for coordinating land stewardship training and ecological restoration projects with private residential landowners in the riparian and shoreline areas of the Niagara River and its tributaries ($110,328); ecological enhancement and wetland restoration on Tuscarora Nation land in the Greenway corridor ($129,767); and an Outer Harbor Bell Slip Stabilization Project in Buffalo to assist in the restoration of the Niagara River ecosystem ($55,000).
(Further information on these ongoing initiatives is available on NYPA’s Niagara relicensing Web site at http://niagara.nypa.gov/RelicensingGreenwayFunds/EcologicalGreenway/EcolDefault.htm)
The GESC is comprised of representatives from NYPA, the Niagara Relicensing Environmental Coalition (consisting of various regionally based environmental groups), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Tuscarora Nation and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. Greenway Ecological Fund projects may be proposed by the GESC or individuals or organizations within the Buffalo-Niagara region.
In addition to the GESC, the other committees created to disburse Power Authority funding for Greenway development in Niagara and Erie counties are the Host Community Greenway Fund Standing Committee, the Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee and the New York State Parks Greenway Fund Standing Committee.
All projects funded through the GESC and the other three standing committees are subject to review by the Niagara River Greenway Commission. A public benefit corporation, the NRGC ensures that the Greenway projects are consistent with the Niagara River Greenway Plan. The commission is charged under a 2004 state law with the planning and development of a Greenway of interconnected parks, river access points and waterfront trails along the Niagara River. (Additional information on the NRGC is available at www.niagaragreenway.org)
The standing committees and the funds they administer were established under agreements for the relicensing of the Niagara project. The project’s new operating license went into effect in September 2007.
ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS ON NYPA GREENWAY FUNDING
Senator William Stachowski said: “As the State Senator of the 58th District, representing much of the Buffalo waterfront, I am quite pleased by the Power Authority’s presentation of $1 million to the Greenway Ecological Fund. “This is the fourth installment of the $450 million fund negotiated into the NYPA operating license, supporting the Niagara River Greenway from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The funds will benefit Western New York residents as well as the many species of wildlife which call the Niagara River and the areas around it home, for generations to come.”
Assemblyman Mark Schroeder said: "This is a major investment in the Niagara River Greenway and in Tifft Nature Preserve in particular. The Tifft Nature Preserve is symbolic of what we are trying to accomplish on our waterfront—reclaiming vacant, formerly industrial land and transforming back to nature. This project is a significant step in that effort."
■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ More than 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower. Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.