Just outside of East Aurora sits 1,100 acres of protected forests that is a combination of Kenneglenn Scenic and Nature Preserve, Hunters Creek County Park, and Mossy Point.
In 2021, the Land Conservancy announced that it was purchasing Mossy Point – 216-acre Wales property – after a successful $1.6 million fundraising campaign. The effort ensured that Mossy Point would be protected in perpetuity (learn more).
Just this week, the Land Conservancy held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Mossy Point, signaling the grand opening of the publicly accessible walking trails at the preserve. Along with miles of hike-able trails, the forested lands are also a significant part of the ever-growing Western New York Wildway – a sweeing conservation effort that intends protect forested lands, while linking them together. This process will help native plants and animals to survive a they face perils brought about by climate change.
“We are extraordinarily thrilled to open these new trails to the public,” said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy. “There is so much incredible beauty to witness at Mossy Point. Migratory birds come from as far away as South America each spring to nest, Great-horned Owls, wildflowers, numerous varieties of ferns, tall old-growth hemlocks—this forest is absolutely teeming with the best that nature has to offer in Western New York.”
One of the catalysts that spurred others to join the cause early on was New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) award of $655,000 to the Land Conservancy. The Water Quality Improvement Project grant was instrumental in getting the ball rolling towards the ultimate purchase of Mossy Point.
“Protecting vast tracts of forest like Mossy Point is a great example of DEC’s successful WQIP program and its effective work to protect habitat and water quality both at its source and downstream,” said DEC Region 9 Director Julie Barrett-O’Neill. “DEC congratulates Western New York Land Conservancy for its vision to pursue this important project to connect Mossy Point with two adjoining forests and benefit the Niagara River ecosystem.”
“We are pleased to partner with the Land Conservancy on their new trail system by sharing an access point with our Hunters Creek Park,” said Mark Poloncarz, County Executive. “The partnership provides residents with yet another outlet for year-round recreation. Even better, those who live downstream can breathe a little easier knowing that this new, expanded acreage is doing valuable work absorbing and filtering rain water and preventing flooding. We welcome this new preserve and its trails.”
Visitors can find the 2.1 miles of trails, which wind through the 216-acre forest and crest at the very peak overlooking the scenic Mossy Point, by heading up the Hunters Creek Park trail starting at the lower parking lot on Hunters Creek Rd.