As we continue to build up the city, it’s more important than ever to preserve our natural resources on the outskirts. For the most part, there has been little effort to control sprawl, and precious natural lands have been dedicated to strip malls, parking lots, cookie cutter residential development, etc.
When an opportunity arises, to preserve rural lands for future generations to enjoy (not to mention a place where the natural inhabitants can continue to live), then me must make haste and do what is right for the common good. Instead of padding the pockets of developers, we must be stewards of our natural resources. At a time, when it is apparent to the masses (even the skeptics are beginning to wonder) that global warming is a lot more serious than anyone ever imagined, we need to start to reverse the overzealous development trends.
Currently, the Western New York Land Conservancy and residents of Grand Island have an opportunity to create a new 140-acre forested nature preserve in the heart of the Niagara River. We’re not just talking about protecting what is currently there, we’re talking about the creation of a new parkscape that includes heavily forested land and green space that was located next to the Nike Base Park (originally a US Army Nike missile base).
The the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and the Gallogly Family Foundation have donated more than $700,000, which would secure the property and open it to the public. Once full secure, the Land Conservancy will move forward with a $600,000 fundraising effort that would be allocated to trail development, habitat restoration, and ongoing maintenance efforts for the preserve, which would be called the Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary.
- In July, the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee approved a grant of $568,000 to help protect the forest.
- In early August, Land Conservancy received an additional $200,000 from the Gallogly Family Foundation to help create the new nature preserve.
“We have been very happy to work with the Land Conservancy to preserve this beautiful forest, which cleans our air and water and keeps us healthy,” said Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray. “The preserve is right next door to the Nike Base Park (originally a US Army Nike missile base) and will give people access to another beautiful green space in Western New York. Now it will always be there for future generations to enjoy.”
This land is incredibly ecologically important. It is one of the largest, undeveloped, privately-owned properties left on Grand Island, and one of the largest remaining forests in the entire Niagara River watershed.
The property is currently owned by Catholic Cemeteries of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The sale of the land would help to buffer the cemetery from encroaching development. This is a great day for the local environment, clean waters, clean air, etc. In a day and age when many elected officials still only have the bottom line (what’s good for development) in mind, it’s a refreshing breath of clean air to see the stars aligned for Mother Nature.
“In his encyclical, Pope Francis calls on the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. We are working with the Land Conservancy to do just that,” said Carmen Colao, Director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Buffalo. “This project will help ensure that the Assumption Cemetery is forever located in a peaceful and tranquil setting, surrounding by a vast and inspiring forest.”
The property includes almost a mile of Little Sixmile Creek, a tributary of the Niagara River. The forest’s landscape was carved by the last glaciers and massive pre-historic floods, leaving behind vast wooded wetlands reminiscent of cypress forests in the bayous of the Southeast.
The land in question is a major hotbed for wildlife. Not only are the oaks and hickories being described as that of a “new plant community” that is very unique, it is also home to critters that include passing migratory songbirds and blue-spotted salamanders.
This forest also provides important ‘ecosystem services’ to the entire region.
“The Great Lakes Basin contains 84% of the surface freshwater of North America,” said Land Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Smith. “This headwater forest is part of this much larger system, and protecting it will ensure that future generations can drink, swim, and fish from our Great Lakes.”
Once the preserve is fully operational, it will be readily accessible by residents of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The preserve is only a few minutes away from both cities. The lands will be open to snow showing, x-country skiing, hiking, etc.
“The preserve will be named after my grandmother who is an avid birdwatcher” said Kasey DeLuke of the Gallogly Family Foundation, and one of the newest Land Conservancy board members. “We are honored to be able to protect this majestic forest in her honor and create a legacy of conservation. Now and far into the future, children will be able to come here with their families to connect to nature.”
NYS Senator Chris Jacobs said “The Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary will safeguard important wildlife habitat, maintain water quality in the Niagara River, help prevent flooding on Grand Island, and add a critical new link of open space and outdoor recreation to the Niagara River Greenway. This will be a good for the quality of life of people who live here, and will attract visitors as well.”
According to Tim DePriest, Chair of the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, “This project is a significant step forward in the creation of the Niagara River Greenway as envisioned with a network of interconnected conservation areas that allow visitors to enjoy and explore the natural beauty of the river corridor. In this case, those who venture into the new forest preserve will experience an ecosystem that represents what the area looked like hundreds of years ago with towering oaks and hickories dominating the island landscape.”
The Land Conservancy hopes to raise the additional $600,000 needed by June of 2018. If you are interested in helping create the Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary, please contact the Land Conservancy at (716) 687-1225 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also donate now by sending a check with “Gallogly” in the memo line to the Western New York Land Conservancy, P.O. Box 471, East Aurora, NY 14052, or by donating online at www.wnylc.org.