There’s more great news on the WNY preservation front. The Western New York Land Conservancy has done it again. This amazing organization has successfully secured an ecologically significant 10.5-acre forest on Staley Road in Grand Island, as part of the Land Conservancy’s ongoing Greenway – Grand Island Land Protection Program, which began in 2018.
Supported by the Niagara River Greenway Commission and the Town of Grand Island, and funded by the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, this significant long-preserved property is strategically located next to a 39-acre town-owned forest.
Moving forward, the land will be known as the Funk Preserve, named after the landowners Robert and Valerie Funk, who opted to sell to the Land Conservancy rather than another potentially risky entity. A sale to a developer could have led to the unspoiled acreage being forever lost. Instead, it will be preserved in its natural state.
“We were born and raised on Grand Island,” said Valerie Funk, “Robert and I have so many fond memories of wandering around this forest with family and friends. Our greatest hope is that, in the future, it will always be here for people and wildlife to enjoy.”
With urban sprawl running unchecked, unrestricted, and rampant in WNY, it’s rare wins like this that should be celebrated.
“Although it’s a relatively small forest, the Funk Preserve supports a wealth of plants and animals in its wooded wetlands and vernal pools, including the adorable Blue-spotted salamander (lead image),” said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy. “We are beyond thrilled to add this incredible place to an ever-growing list of conserved properties on Grand Island.”
The town was able to connect Gallogly Nature Sanctuary to their own new trail system from Nike Base Park to the West River Shoreline Trail, making a substantial hiking experience.
“The Land Conservancy has proved, time and again, to be wonderful stewards of our region’s most vulnerable and significant natural spaces,” said Gregory Stevens, Executive Director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission. “In addition, they have proven themselves to be a wonderful partner to municipalities like Grand Island. Just recently the town was able to connect the Land Conservancy’s Gallogly Nature Sanctuary to their own new trail system from Nike Base Park to the West River Shoreline Trail, making a substantial hiking experience. Niagara River Greenway is all about making connections, to trail systems, to the waterfront, to nature, and to each other. We work closely with the Land Conservancy to execute our conservation strategy within the Niagara Region, and are appreciative of all of their hard work in saving forests and being great collaborators.”
“The purpose of our funding program is to identify lands on Grand Island that have important wildlife habitat, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, and streams, and to identify landowners who want to voluntarily protect their own land,” said Tim DePriest, Chair of the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee (GESC). “The Land Conservancy has been enthusiastic partners from the start, and the Funk property is an excellent example of the projects we aim to support.”
The Funk Preserve will now join a network of conserved lands in our town, including the Land Conservancy’s Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary.
“Grand Islanders are lucky to live in a place that offers such unique natural habitats,” said Town Supervisor John Whitney. “The Funk Preserve will now join a network of conserved lands in our town, including the Land Conservancy’s Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary. We are grateful to the Land Conservancy, the Greenway Commission, the landowners, and the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee for recognizing the importance of this forest for our community and for making a substantial financial investment to make this preserve a reality.”
The Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC) is a regional, non-profit land trust that has protected more than 7,000 acres of land with significant conservation value in Western New York for the benefit of future generations. WNYLC envisions a future in which forests, farms, meadows, and waterways are connected, cherished, and protected in Western New York. Our clean air, clean water, and fertile soils will equitably support the health and wellbeing of future generations of every living thing. The Land Conservancy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org
Lead image: Blue-Spotted Salamander | Source: Land Conservancy naturalist, Erik Danielson