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T.J. Pignataro - Buffalo, NY

Environment Reporter for The Buffalo News since 2013. News Staff Reporter since 1998. Previous beat assignments included suburban coverage in WNY and the News' bureau at Buffalo Police HQ. Former staff reporter at the Altoona Mirror (1997-98) and Dunkirk Observer (1995-97), and assistant news director at WBTA-1490, Batavia (1994-95).


Buffalo

Gravel, sand and silt dredged from the bottom of the Buffalo River were once so toxic they had to be hauled off to a special site. But now, after a $75 million cleanup, sediment coming out of the river is healthy enough to be used to build a new habitat for fish, shorebirds, turtles and other aquatic wildlife on Buffalo's Unity Island. The first-of-its-kind project i…

Environment

The northern part of  Tifft Nature Preserve on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor has a different look. Just last year it was overrun by acres of invasive buckthorn shrubs. Now, saplings of swamp white oaks, American sycamores, silver maples and other native trees and shrubs grow on the land. It’s part of a $147,000, multiyear project that’s creating native habitat for the ra…

Environment

The destructive European cherry fruit fly was found for the first time in the United States last year on wild honeysuckle plants and cherry trees along the Niagara River. So the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is back in Niagara County this spring surveying for the pest. The service said it will place traps designed to capture…

Environment

A tunnel collapse at the site of Tonawanda Coke may result in increased risks for environmental toxins in the surrounding community, the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York said today. Brian Borncamp, a Clean Air spokesman, said the organization received a call earlier today from a former employee at Tonawanda Coke who said that a waste heat tunnel at the River Road…

Environment

A national nonprofit conservation group petitioned the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday to list the lake sturgeon as a threatened or endangered species. In its 220-page petition, the Center for Biological Diversity requested the federal designation, citing a 99 percent decline in lake sturgeon populations over the last century due to overfishing, dam construction…

Weather

The Monday morning fog isn't lifting. It may continue through the afternoon, the National Weather Service announced about 2 p.m. in a special weather statement for northern Erie County. "Areas of fog have re-developed again early this afternoon right along the lakeshore," the weather service said. "Some of the fog could be locally dense at times through at least mid-…

Environment

The abundance of lake trout in Lake Erie might lead you to believe the native fish thrive around here. A state Department of Environmental Conservation survey showed a 30 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. There’s a catch. Lake trout haven’t reproduced in Lake Erie in decades. So, where are they all coming from? Government agencies stock the lake every spri…

Environment

There's another invasive pest to keep an eye out for, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The spotted lanternfly, an invasive species from Asia, feeds on dozens of plants, including tree-of-heaven, maples, grapevines and hops, officials said. The DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets confirmed that a single dead spotted lant…

Buffalo

More than $3,000 worth of tools and materials were taken late this week from a Fuhrmann Boulevard construction site, according to Buffalo Police reports. A report was made Friday to the South District Police who stated that someone broke the locks and chains on gates at the construction site at 1751 Fuhrmann Boulevard, just south of Tifft Street. Once inside, the bur…

Crime

A Lexington Avenue man faces several charges in connection with an alleged attack on a woman at his house late Friday afternoon, according to Buffalo Police reports. The victim told Central District Police that the male suspect was at work and returned home in the first block of Lexington, near Delaware, about 5:30 p.m. She said he began questioning her about why she…

Crime

A loud party in the University District overnight was broken up by police and a pair of arrests were made, according to Buffalo Police reports. Reports stated that police arrested a 20-year-old male for exposing himself in front of two children while allegedly urinating out a window at 100 Winspear Ave. early Saturday morning. Police also reported a separate arrest m…

Featured

A 41-year-old woman was fatally injured when she was struck by a car while crossing Niagara Falls Boulevard early Saturday morning, Amherst police said. Police said Jennifer L. Duffin, 41, was crossing in the 2000 block of Niagara Falls Boulevard, between Inn Keepers Lane and Willow Ridge Drive, at 12:42 a.m. Saturday when she was struck by a 2007 Pontiac driven by a 22…

Local News

The mercury soared to a mid-summerlike 85 degrees at 3:50 p.m. Wednesday. That marked the first 80-degree day in Buffalo since Oct. 7, 2017, and the warmest day in Buffalo since an 88-degree reading was logged last Sept. 26. It could be at least a week or more before the temperature warms up like that again, according to the National Weather Service. A cold front …

Business

A few dozen Labatt USA employees are getting dirty hands working with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. They're fishing for microplastics in area creeks and streams. A pilot project developed by Waterkeeper aims to gauge pollution this summer at 10 spots around the Buffalo area. “It’s a much needed data-set that we don’t have locally,” said Jill Jedlicka, Waterkeeper’s…

Environment

In mid-March, wildlife biologists from the state Department of Environmental Conservation rousted the den of a dormant mother bear and her three newborn cubs, and tagged them in the name of science. http://buffalonews.com/2018/03/17/into-the-bears-den-biologists-check-out-mother-bear-and-her-three-cubs/ Thanks to a trail camera they attached to a tree near the den be…