Image via WikipediaThere are three major reasons that the funding proposal put forth by the Town of Lewiston, "Plateau Dog Park and Nature Preserve,should be denied funding at this time and for the proposed location.
1) The Greenway Commission has properly noted that the proposed location for the dog park is within the area of study already found consistent and funded by the Commission and appropriate standing committee: "Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim." The Commission voted to table the proposal for the dog park based on this observation. Nothing has changed with regard to this; the study of the gorge rim is not yet complete; the identical proposal for the dog park, with no change of location, now requests full funding.
For a standing committee to fund the dog park proposal would be to disregard this decision as if it were meaningless. While this action may be defensible in some circumstances, technically legal, in this instance it is not.
2) The Niagara River and its shorelines has been designated by the Audubon Society and others as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area, the first international area so designated. The Lewiston Plateau is within this area; the "Nature Preserve" of the plateau referred to in the dog park proposal title ("Plateau Dog Park and Nature Preserve")is therefore also within this area. The Nature Preserve, which has been established as a grassland for ground-nesting birds, is home this year to two nesting pairs of grasshopper sparrows, a species "of concern" in New York State, where their numbers are greatly diminished because of habitat loss. The presence of these birds have been documented by a well-known birder and we have photographic evidence. Other ground-nesting birds such as the meadowlark and bobolink are nesting there,
The current Nature Preserve is small, given the preferences of many ground-nesting species, including the grasshopper sparrow. We are fortunate to have them--and should be considering the enlargement of the Preserve, not establishing a dog park which will virtually ensure that a larger Preserve will not happen in the future.
3) The proposal itself is poorly written in terms of content and is, at the very least, misleading. At its worst, it might appear fraudulent to
a) There will be none of the applied for funds spent on the "Nature Preserve." Because it is a grass land, no "landscaping" is needed; landscaping, in fact would be detrimental to the Preserve; it would not, as is claimed by the proposal, "improve fauna and landscape."
b) What is proposed will not be in any way be "extending Olmsted's legacy."If, in fact, if the Olmsted vision had any relevance at all on the plateau, the proposed dog park would be destroying it. Anyone with even a scant knowledge of Olmsted's legacy, most visible in our area on Goat Island above the Falls, knows this to be a preposterous statement.
c) There are repeated references to the Nature Preserve in the proposal, which seem to be related to the following: a chain link fence will be erected along the boundary of the Preserve, to prevent the inadvertent loose dog(s) from the penned area of' the dog park from entering the Preserve. It is along this fence, probably believed to be unsightly, where trees ("landscaping") will be planted. These will not be of help to the "fauna" of the Preserve. They area cosmetic to hide a fence that wouldn't be there in the first place had a dog park not been contemplated for this location. That this mitigation is necessary calls the dog park location into question.
The proposal has checked "Environmental" on the application for funds. Putting a dog park in this category is a perversion of the word "environmental" by most generally perceived definitions.<
e) Under "Ecological Integrity" of the proposal is the following language:"...this project will improve the health, vitality, and of natural resources and wildlife habitats with and emphasis placed on restoring and retaining ecologically significant areas and natural landscapes in and over the water and inland."
A dog park provides none of these and to suggest it is capable of delivering them stretches credulity beyond the imagination.
I speak strongly against the funding of this proposal for a dog park (Nature Preserve shouldn't even be in the title) in this location. The Town of Lewiston should be encouraged to resubmit a revised proposal for a dog park in a different location.
Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council Chair