Back in August, we posted on the Western New York Land Conservancy and the Friends of the Allegany Wildlands’ joint effort to purchase and forever protect the Allegany Wildlands near Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County. It turns out that that valiant effort was ultimately successful, as the 200-acre forest has now been officially saved as part of the Land Conservancy’s planned Western New York Wildway.
The Wildway will allow plants and animals to migrate across the land as they once did.
The same family – the Sluga family – has owned this precious property since the early 1800s, when they purchased it from the Holland Land Company. When the family opted to sell the land, the goal was to preserve it much the way it had preserved for generations. Two significant milestones helped to secure the future of the Allegany Wildlands:
- During the summer, they received three challenge gifts totaling $310,000—which, thanks to hundreds of individual and foundation donors, the community matched.
- In December, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded the Land Conservancy $347,000 toward the purchase of the property, successfully concluding the campaign (EPF Grant #218790).
“The Allegany Wildlands’ represents an incredible opportunity for the Land Conservancy and its partners to begin implementing their Western New York Wildway concept,” said Mark V. Mistretta, Western District Director of NYS Parks. “This ambitious plan will help New York meet its climate-mitigation goals and will keep our state at the vanguard of a broad, nationwide effort to conserve valuable land for future generations.”
It was the connectivity to the Wildway that prompted the Gallogly Family Foundation to donate $200,000 toward a challenge grant. That donation and challenge grant helped to get the fundraising efforts steamrolling.
The property has been owned by the Sluga family since the early 1800s, when they purchased it from the Holland Land Company.
“We are extraordinarily pleased to assist the Land Conservancy in their efforts to save the Allegany Wildlands,” said Kasey DeLuke of Gallogly Family Foundation, also a Land Conservancy board member. “Our goal, like theirs, is to keep the momentum for landscape-scale conservation of the type envisioned by the Western New York Wildway going strong for years to come. We believe the Wildway is a gamechanger for our region.”
The preserve will be named after the foundation’s co-founder, Janet Gallogly.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is seeing our community rally around a common goal,” said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy. “The Allegany Wildlands is an astonishing forest that’s already connected to 7,000 acres of protected state land, making it a huge step toward our long-term goal of establishing the Western New York Wildway. We couldn’t be more thrilled to save it permanently.”
This is not only welcome news for WNY nature lovers, it’s also a significant win for the flora and fauna that call the wooded land home, including bald eagles, songbirds, river otters, black bears, and bobcats. The lands are also home to six surviving American Chestnuts that stand more than 40-feet tall. The rest were wiped out by blight.
As climate change, deforestation, sprawl, invasive predators, pollution, disease, and other scourges threaten wild lands and wildlife around the world, we can take a moment to cherish this herculean effort.
Moving forward, The Land Conservancy will enter the final stages of purchasing the property. Once the sale is official, the Land Conservancy will create a walking trail and keep it open year-round as a publicly accessible nature preserve.