BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is kicking off the water season in style.
Dozens of water enthusiasts grabbed their kayaks and joined the organization for a floatilla on the Buffalo River this week to celebrate the start of WaterKeeper Weekend.
"We wanted to do something really fun this year", says Jill Jedlicka, the Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. "Obviously it's been a year and a half of craziness for all of us. We haven't been able to gather and we haven't been able to celebrate the regions waterways. This year we decided why not kick off Waterkeeper weekend with a floatilla".
A picture-perfect evening on Thursday set the stage for a 4-mile paddle from Red Jacket Park to Bailey Peninsula and back. The journey was largely ceremonial in nature but also allowed Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to highlight and celebrate more than three decades of work focused on cleaning up the Buffalo River.
"It doesn't look anything like it did fifty or sixty years ago. You wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near the water at all. It would occasionally catch on fire, it was covered in oil", said Jedlicka. "Collectively we have done a $100 million restoration of the seven mile river to get the toxic contamination out and managed."
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is also focused on enhancing public access to our Western New York waterways. The organization has completed close to two miles of habitat restoration along the Buffalo River, and is currently adding and upgrading kayak launches and fishing piers as part of the Buffalo Blueway initiative.
"We want to make our waterways accessible to everyone no matter if you are a skilled paddler, an angler, a birdwatcher, or just someone who likes to walk along the waterways", added Jedlicka.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has several events and activities scheduled all summer to encourage us all to get out on the water. For a list of activities click here.