Buffalo Creek Valley IBA and Watershed

Updates: Audubon in Buffalo Creek

  • Buffalo Creek Nature Park opened in June 2021.Situated next to the Butler-Freeport Trail, BCNP has a variety of amenities, including a nature store, concession, nature play area, pavilion, classroom, and rental space. Regular programming is offered at this location and the nearby Todd Nature Reserve – check out our calendar for more info.
  • SAVE THE DATE for the first annual Buffalo Creek Watershed Festival on September 18, 2021. 
  • In partnership with Duquesne and Chatham Universities, we are currently conducting a comprehensive water quality study in Little Buffalo Creek. The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds provided support for this project.
  • ASWP is seeking landowners with creeks on their property in the Buffalo Creek Watershed who are interested in having native trees and shrubs planted on their property. This funding is for bird-friendly trees and shrubs that will help to keep streams healthy and provide habitat, creating a multifunctional riparian buffer. As an added bonus, many of the species used in these planting projects, such as elderberry and paw paws, produce edible fruit for people! Funding for this project was made possible by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
  • ASWP launched the Buffalo Creek Watershed Coalition in 2019. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming meetings, landowner workshops, youth-focused education, and volunteer opportunities. Want to get involved? Email Nelson Milano, Buffalo Creek Watershed Coordinator, at nmilano (@) aswp.org
  • In partnership with Armstrong Conservation District, Butler County Conservation District, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy , Duquesne University, and The American Chestnut Foundation-PA, ASWP was recently awarded a $1.2M NRCS RCPP grant  to conduct conservation planning and restoration in Buffalo Creek.
  • ASWP is leading a comprehensive water quality sampling, education, and outreach campaign in the watershed with support from Pennsylvania Growing Greener.
  • As part of the Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) Community Conservation initiative, ASWP is working with local schools, libraries, Master Birders, and a variety of partners to keep Buffalo Creek’s streams and forests healthy for this important indicator species. Funding for this project is provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Grant.

Buffalo Creek Valley Important Bird Area (IBA)

Did you know that Todd Nature Reserve falls within an Important Bird Area (IBA)? ASWP has an ongoing commitment to protect this amazing area. The Buffalo Creek Valley IBA  contains exceptional bird habitat, is an area of high biological diversity, and is home to many species of conservation concern.

The IBA is made up of the Buffalo Creek high-quality watershed and Harrison Hills Park, covering 171.5 square miles in Butler, Armstrong, and Allegheny counties. The area is a mixing zone between southern fauna such as Yellow-throated Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Yellow-throated Vireo—and northern fauna including Magnolia Warbler, Brown Creeper, and Purple Finch. It contains extensive areas of northern hardwood-conifer forest communities along steep and narrow ravines and large wetland areas in areas such as the floodplain of Little Buffalo Run. It even contains portions of two Important Mammal Areas!

ASWP is proud to help protect and preserve the quality and character of the Buffalo Creek Valley IBA.

ASWP in the Buffalo Creek Valley IBA

ASWP has a long history of environmental stewardship in the IBA which includes conservation, providing recreational opportunities, environmental education, community engagement, planning, and restoration activities. A few highlights include:

  • Offering recreational amenities with the Buffalo Creek Nature Park and Todd Nature Reserve,
  • Over 75 years of land conservation at Todd Nature Reserve,
  • Over 500 acres permanently protected through ownership and conservation easements,
  • Led the development of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan in 2008 (see below) and 10-Year Plan Update (below),
  • Launched the Buffalo Creek Watershed Coalition in 2020,
  • Offering a variety of conservation and environmental education including water quality sampling, riparian buffer planting, conservation planning for farms and forests, landowner workshops, litter pick-ups, family and youth-education, and native plant and tree giveaways.
  • On-going public education opportunities through weekly naturalist-led walks at Todd Nature Reserve (April - October) and classes at Buffalo Creek Nature Park.

Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan 10-Year Update (2019)

Over the last 10 years, the watershed has experienced many changes (e.g. loss of forest and agricultural lands to development) and additional threats have surfaced (e.g. Wooly Hemlock Adelgid).

To facilitate conservation and restoration of the watershed, ASWP conducted a 10-year update to the Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan in 2019. Through this process, we identified opportunities for restoration, partnership, and further stewardship of the IBA. A copy of the plan may be accessed here

Please contact Sarah Koenig, Conservation Director, at skoenig@aswp.org for more

Funding for this planning initiative was provided by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.


Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan (2008)

In 2008, ASWP led the development of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan (funded through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund administered by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). There is no watershed association for Buffalo Creek. Through these planning efforts, ASWP sought to ensure that there was a conservation plan for the watershed that was informed by a diverse set of stakeholders.

Section 2 Intro and Executive Summary | Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5 | Section 6 | Section 7 | Section 8

Appendix A | Appendix B |Appendix C |Appendix D |Appendix E |Appendix F |Appendix G |Appendix H |Appendix I |Appendix J |Appendix K |Appendix L |

Buffalo Creek In the News

Audubon secures $1.2M grant to help preserve Buffalo Creek watershed (Valley News Dispatch, 4/21/2020)

Audubon plans bird festival, other activities in Buffalo Creek watershed (Valley News Dispatch, 11/29/2019)

BuffaloTownship to consider final plans for $1M Audubon nature center, park (Valley News Dispatch, 11/12/2019)

Water experts to test polluted waters in the Buffalo Creek watershed to find the source (Valley News Dispatch, 10/9/2019)

Audubon Society: Water quality in Buffalo Creek watershed worsening  (Valley News
Dispatch, 8/4/2019)