Niagara Escarpment Protection in New York

Mike met some people who are working to protect their part of the Niagara Escarpment in the U.S. and he invited them to share what they’re doing. Here is a guest post from them.

In Canada, the Niagara Escarpment is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its unique geological and ecological features. Although many of these same features are found across the border in New York State, no such designation or protection exists there. The Western New York Land Conservancy is working to change this.
The Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation values for the benefit of future generations. In their 22-year history, the Land Conservancy has preserved over 5,000 acres of farms, meadows and forests, and each year the list of important places they protect grows. Recently, the Land Conservancy has focused its attention on protecting the cultural and environmental heritage of the Niagara Escarpment.
The Niagara Escarpment shaped the Western New York region. When glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age, fast flowing water carved a path through the Escarpment forming the Niagara Gorge and Falls. Historically, small boats on the Erie Canal carried cargo up and over the Escarpment at the locks in Lockport. Today, many people might know the Escarpment as the ridge overlooking the Village of Lewiston and Artpark on the Niagara River. Small cruise boats still bring tourists through the Erie Canal locks. The large wineries and fruit orchards in Niagara County owe their success to microclimates influenced by the Escarpment. And Niagara Falls attracts millions of visitors to the region each year.
In 2011, the Land Conservancy began grassland restoration projects at four sites along the Niagara Escarpment and protected its first Escarpment property, a 36-acre preserve in Lockport, encompassing mature hardwood forest and former farmland. The Land Conservancy also teamed up with a local consultant, Ecology & Environment, to obtain funding from the Niagara Greenway Commission’s Ecological Standing Committee for a comprehensive inventory of the ecological, geological, scenic, and cultural resources of the Niagara County portion of the Niagara Escarpment. With the results of this study in hand, the Land Conservancy will be able to focus on areas in most need of protection and to enlist the aid of the public, other organizations and governmental agencies in protecting them.
Please feel free to contact the Land Conservancy by visiting their website, by calling 1(716)687-1225, or by emailing As a not-for-profit, the Land Conservancy welcomes donations to support their conservation work. You may also participate in one of the free public events listed on their website.


  • Thank you for publishing this! Hopefully we can think of ways to work together across the border on our shared Niagara Escarpment.

  • Thus far the New York State portion of the Niagara Escarpment has received somewhat limited public attention. This contrasts with an effort in Ontario, where the geology, fossil diversity, and ecology of the Escarpment has drawn the attention of the United Nations, which recognized the Canadian portion as a World Bio-Sphere Reserve in 1990. In response to international recognition, Ontario has developed a land use and protection plan for the Escarpment. Major protection initiatives are also taking place in Wisconsin. An eventual linkage with Canadian and Wisconsin portions of the Escarpment would make this not only an ecological, geological and cultural treasure but also a bi-national community resource.

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