Chances are, if you’re from WNY, and you love camping, you have paid a visit to Allegany State Park. If this is the case, then you are aware of the significance of this part of the region. What you might not know is that only a few hundred feet from the Allegheny Reservoir near Allegany State Park, there is a stunning 200-acre forest.
As far as this precious forest goes, it’s up in the air what its future beholds. In order to save it from potentially being logged and developed, The Gallogly Family Foundation has given $200,000 towards a $310,000 matching gift, which has been directed towards The Western New York Land Conservancy and the Friends of the Allegany Wildlands. Now, their goal is to come up with matching funds (another $310,000) by December 31, 2021, in order to preserve the pristine lands.
Currently, the 200-acre forest (Allegany Wildlands) is home to six original American Chestnuts* that are more than 40-feet tall (some of which are producing seeds), large oaks, a threatened lily called a White Clintonia, and rare orchids. The forest is also home to black bear and bobcat, bald eagles, songbirds (which are already having a tough time), and river otters (in the nearby reservoir).
“The Land Conservancy has proven time again to be excellent champions of our region’s most environmentally significant forests,” said Kasey DeLuke of the foundation, also a Land Conservancy board member. “Over the years, they have demonstrated how the work of a dedicated community can benefit an entire region. We are extraordinarily pleased to be able to assist the Land Conservancy in their efforts to save this incredible forest.”
During the last ice age, the glaciers never covered this forest, keeping intact an ancient plant community.
“The rolling, thickly forested hills that carpet this area are some of the most beautiful in our region,” said Randy Ordines, President of the Lenna Foundation, which has contributed $100,000 to the matching gift campaign. “By protecting the Allegany Wildlands, the Land Conservancy community is helping to form a corridor of connectivity from Northern Pennsylvania to the Finger Lakes—joining with other protected forests up and down the east coast. We are proud to assist the Land Conservancy in these efforts.”
Now, it’s up to the community to help secure the matching donation number, with incremental donations (no matter how large or small). Every dollar donated will be matched, dollar for dollar. The total amount that needs to be raised to save the forest is $879,000 – once the funds are raised, the Land Conservancy will purchase the land and keep it open as a publicly accessible nature preserve, forever. Click here to make a donation.
If the Land Conservancy community cannot meet its fundraising goal by December 31, 2021, it could be logged and developed.
“Saving forests like the Allegany Wildlands is incredibly rewarding work,” said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy. “But it truly takes a community coming together to make this work successful. We are immensely grateful for these gifts. They are a strong show of support for the work we’re doing to protect the Allegany Wildlands, and to build a future Western New York where lush green forests remain intact.”
In the early 1800s, the property was purchased by the Sluga family from the Holland Land Company. The family has been stewards of the land ever since, but are now finally selling. Their hope is that the lands remain natural and protected. If the lands are saved, they will become part of the Western New York Wildway – a connected corridor of protected lands that stretches from the vast forests of northern Pennsylvania to the Great Lakes, through to the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, and beyond. The Eastern Wildway runs all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, more than ever, due to global warming, birds, and animals (and their home forests) need our help. The Wildway will allow them to live in their natural protected environments (or even return to their homes), while also permitting them to travel greater distances.
The Allegany Wildlands is already connected to 7,000 acres of protected state land, nestled between Allegany State Park and South Valley State Forest, and it is a significant link in a future Western New York Wildway.
For those of you who have camped in this part of the region, fished, hiked, etc., the Allegany Wildlands need your help. Even if you’ve never been to Allegany State Park, if you are a lover of nature and understand the importance of saving these wild lands, consider chipping in to achieve the “team effort” goal.
The Land Conservancy needs donations of all sizes in order to save the Allegany Wildlands. For larger donations, naming opportunities include:
- ONE DONOR OF $200,000 can name the preserve (Reserved)
- ONE DONOR OF $100,000 can have the trail named in their honor (Reserved)
- DONORS OF $25,000 OR MORE can have a bench 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.
A third, anonymous donor contributed an additional $10,000, making the matching gift $310,000 at this time. Every dollar donated will be matched, dollar for dollar.
If you would like to donate to save the Allegany Wildlands, you can donate online at wnylc.org or send a check made payable to “Western New York Land Conservancy” to P.O. Box 471, East Aurora, NY 14052. Please call or email if you have questions: (716) 687-1225 or email@example.com.
*As recently as 150 years ago, the forest teemed with massive American Chestnut trees, which had dominated eastern forests for 40 million years, but were wiped out by a blight.