The Thiess International Riverprize is awarded each year to organizations demonstrating outstanding results in sustainable river basin management, restoration and protection worldwide.
The award was presented Sept. 13 at the annual International RiverFoundation (IRF) Riversymposium in New Delhi, India. It includes a $150,000 cash prize.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was recognized for its decades-long efforts to restore and protect the Niagara River watershed, including the massive Buffalo River restoration. The region’s challenges include cleaning up toxic sediment, eliminating sewage overflows, restoring critical habitat and advocating for the long-term health of the Great Lakes.
Started in 1989 as a volunteer-based, grassroots organization, Riverkeeper is credited with galvanizing a community-driven effort to protect and maintain the integrity of local fresh water systems. This effort includes gardeners.
“Gardeners can play an important role in the protection and improvement of water quality and local ecosystems,” said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
One thing you can do is to use native plants.
“Utilizing native plants that have evolved to local conditions can be beneficial to gardeners and to the environment,” Jedlicka said.
Native plants are easy to grow and don’t need a lot of maintenance.
“Local, native species are already adapted to rainfall conditions and may require less watering,” Jedlicka said.
At the same time, native plants provide a critical food source for various resident and migratory animal species.
“We encourage Western New Yorkers to seek out and plant native species whenever possible, which will help us re-establish historically significant native landscapes and conservation of our fresh water resources,” she said.
You can find great information in the illustrated the Western New York Guide to Native Plants for your Garden, produced by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is also the reigning North American Riverprize winner. In May 2015, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was one of 40 contenders for the inaugural North American Riverprize, and after six months and three stages of review, the organization was awarded the prize in Albuquerque, New Mexico.