BOTANICAL EVALUATION OF THE GOAT ISLAND COMPLEX, NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK
9. Ballast (along eastern perimeter of Goat Island)
Vegetation has not established itself much on this habitat, and the rocks bear a bleak and sterile aspect. This is a shoreline habitat much like that of the talus slope at the base of Goat Island, which is mainly calcareous rubble. The ballast flora is more depauperate, with a somewhat different suite of alien weeds and fewer native species.
Far from a sterile environment, the barren rocks are beginning to be covered by young vegetation, mostly of exotic species. Even bryophytes are colonizing moist depressions near water-line.
Excellent possible cover for the ballast, which might stabilize it and make its erosion-control features more effective, in addition to hiding it from view, is to allow the saplings of native Birch, Cottonwood, Quaking Aspen, Silver Maple, Slippery Elm and Willow, which have established themselves, to flourish. Care must be taken to remove Buckthorn, Old World Honeysuckles, Privet and White Mulberry, which tend to become noxious, and which have established themselves on the ballast.
It might be desirable to establish additional cover of Nine-bark shrubs (Physocarpus opulifolius, Red Osier- or Panicled Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera or racemosa), Virginia Creeper, and others native species appropriate to this habitat, depending on a plan to permit natural regeneration. This might be an opportunity to reintroduce Climbing Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) onto the island (it grows on a similar habitat at the base of Goat Island in talus), and Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana), which is well established on the Second Sister and grows throughout the gorge on the talus slopes there. Frost Grape (Vitis riparia), already abundant on Goat Island and established on the ballast, may also be encouraged to effectively cover these rocks.
For analogous habitat supporting additional native taxa, examination may be made of the ballasted section of the Niagara River from Goat Island east to the Grand Island Bridge. Ballasted sections of the river may be examined all the way to Buffalo, and along similar situations on the Ontario side. Recreational ideas could also be noted in these sections.
Small areas where the force of the river can be broken by making the shoreline somewhat irregular, by the placement of logs rock, and brush could make an area of quiet water where attractive vegetation could be introduced of find its way there naturally. Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) is native to the area, and typical of this kind of habitat, and a very lovely sight in summer. For other alluvial shallows habitat ideas see the western ends of the First and Second Sister.
These dolomite boulders will probably accumulate more bryophyte cover, and the habitat seems perfect for the development of red algae communities. Bangia atropurpurea has already been collected on the extreme east end (see algae section).
TREES AND SHRUBS.
Acer saccharinum. SILVER MAPLE.
* Betula papyrifera CANOE BIRCH.
Cornus racemosa PANICLED DOGWOOD.
* Ligustrum vulgare PRIVET.
* Lonicera tartarica TARTARIAN HONEYSUCKLE.
* Morus alba WHITE MULBERRY.
Parthenocissus sp. VIRGINIA CREEPER. Cover.
Populus deltoides COTTONWOOD.
Populus tremuloides QUAKING ASPEN.
* Rhamnus cathartica COMMON BUCKTHORN.
Rhus radicans POISON IVY.
* Rosa rugosa RUGOSE ROSE.
Rubus strigosus RED RASPBERRY.
Ulmus rubra SLIPPERY ELM.
Vitis riparia FROST GRAPE.
* Anthemis arvensis CORN CAMOMILE.
* Aquilegia vulgaris GARDEN COLUMBINE.
* Arctium minus SMALLER BURDOCK.
* Arrhenatherum elatius TALL OAT-GRASS.
Asclepias syriaca COMMON MILKWEED.
* Barbarea vulgaris WINTER CRESS.
* Capsella bursa-pastoris SHEPHERD'S PURSE.
* Centaurea jacea BROWN KNAPWEED.
* Chrysanthemum leucanthemum OX-EYE DAISY.
Cirsium vulgare BULL THISTLE.
* Dactylis glomerata ORCHARD GRASS.
* Dipsacus sylvestris COMMON TEASEL.
* Hieracium pratense KING-DEVIL.
* Hypericum perforatum COMMON ST. JOHN'S WORT.
* Lepidium campestre FIELD PEPPERGRASS.
* Linaria vulgaris BUTTER-AND-EGGS.
* Lotus corniculatus BIRD'S FOOT TREFOIL.
* Lychnis alba EVENING LYCHNIS.
* Medicago lupulina BLACK MEDICK.
* Physalis heterophylla GROUND-CHERRY.
* Plantago lanceolata ENGLISH PLANTAIN.
* Potentilla recta SULPHURY CINQUEFOIL.
* Rumex crispus CURLED DOCK.
* Saponaria officinalis BOUNCING BET.
* Solanum dulcamara BITTER NIGHTSHADE.
* Sonchus oleraceus SOW THISTLE.
* Trifolium repens CREEPING WHITE CLOVER.
Ulmusrubra SLIPPERY ELM.
* Verbascum thapsus MULLEIN.
Vitisriparia FROST GRAPE.
(mostly typical pioneer species)
Bryumlisae var. cuspidatum.
R Didymodon tophaceus. (Rare - New York State Natural Heritage Program).