Back in June, I wrote about the importance of an effort to protect a natural environment called College Lodge Forest in Western NY. At the time, the community was just learning about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to forever protect and preserve this pristine wooded land – its ancient fragile ecosystem is still in jeopardy of being lost once and for all.
At the time that I posted the call to action, the urgency was great, but not like it is now. That’s because Friends of the College Lodge Forest and the Western New York Land Conservancy have until the end of the year to raise funds to purchase the woodlands that are home to rare wildlife, colorful orchids, and carnivorous plants. The lands also retain one of the last remaining groves of old-growth forest in the region!
This spectacular property is perched on the crest of a continental divide. When rain falls on the forest, some water drains toward Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean, while some drains toward the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, the race is on, to raise a $200,000 challenge gift, which would achieve the fundraising goal of $790,000. While this might sound like a lot of money, this is not an exorbitant number if you consider the inherent value of the land, which should be considered priceless, because once it’s gone…
Once the land is purchased, the Land Conservancy will become the steward the property. Aside from protecting the property, the land would also have a public component, including a historic lodge, and hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing trails. Otherwise, if not protected, the land could be logged, which is a slippery slope at best. At that point, it’s pretty much game over. But Western NY nature lovers will not let that happen, hopefully.
What’s it going to take? This is a chance to make a donation (big or small). Why not consider putting the charitable gift in a son or daughter’s name, or one of the grand children, because this is the land that future generations will come to appreciate.
“Though our community has a ways to go to make it to the finish line,” says Nancy Smith, the Land Conservancy’s Executive Director, “the Land Conservancy is fully committed to keeping the old-growth forest intact. We look forward to the day when the College Lodge Forest will be one of the first in our region to join the Old-growth Forest Network. Time and again, our community has demonstrated how much it values natural places like the College Lodge Forest.”
Old-growth forests are some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world, and they play a crucial role in slowing down climate change.
As part of the fundraising effort, the Land Conservancy has arranged for a free virtual event on October 29 featuring Joan Maloof, nationally-renowned writer, professor emeritus, and founder of the Old-growth Forest Network, who will discuss her book Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests. Attendees will also hear from Jajean Rose-Burney, Deputy Executive Director of the Land Conservancy, about how they can save the College Lodge Forest.
“Thanks to a passionate community of conservationists in Western New York,” Maloof says, “the College Lodge Forest has long been on our radar as a forest of significant value. Old-growth forests like this are crucial to the continued success of all the plant and animal species that make up the complex web of life on earth—including our own. We can’t afford to lose any more of them.”
Once the community reaches its fundraising goal, the Land Conservancy will purchase 168 acres of the 201-acre property
The public is encouraged to attend this free event, but anyone who wishes to watch must register at the Land Conservancy’s website, WNYLC.ORG. Prior to the event, all registrants will receive a link to watch it on YouTube. Although the event is free, the Land Conservancy encourages all registrants to make a donation to save the College Lodge Forest.
Speaking for the Trees: How you can Save our Old-growth at the College Lodge Forest
When: October 29, 2019, 7:00-8:00 p.m. EDT
The community has stepped up in its efforts, with gifts ranging from small to large, but donors are all united behind the one consistent goal of protecting the College Lodge Forest. For larger donations, naming opportunities remain. They include:
- One donor of $200,000 can name the preserve
- One donor of $100,000 can have the old-growth grove named in their honor (Reserved)
- One donor of $100,000 can have the beaver pond named in their honor
- One donor of $50,000 can have the small island named in their honor (Reserved)
- One donor of $50,000 can have the birdwatching blind named in their honor
- One donor of $50,000 can have a wooden footbridge named in their honor
- One donor of $50,000 can have a panoramic viewpoint of the beaver pond named in their honor (Reserved)
- Donors of $20,000 can have a bench in the outdoor amphitheater named in their honor
- Donors of $10,000 or more will have their name listed on a plaque placed at the preserve
- Donors of $2,000 or more will be recognized in the Land Conservancy newsletter
If you are interested in learning more about the Western New York Land Conservancy’s work, contact the office at (716) 687-1225 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate to save the College Lodge Forest, you can donate online at wnylc.org or send a check to P.O. Box 471, East Aurora, NY 14052.
If you wish to visit, the College Lodge Forest is located at 8067 Route 380 Brocton, NY 14716. For more details on the forest, go to collegelodge.com.
Lead image: Photo by Priscilla Titus – Misty Trees