Land Conservancy awarded $300,000; more than halfway to goal of protecting Jackson Falls

The Western New York Land Conservancy has just received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect a 57-acre property in the Town of Aurora. The land, known as Jackson Falls, has two gorgeous waterfalls and incredible Roycroft history. Once protected, it will become a publicly accessible nature preserve.

The Land Conservancy and the Friends of Jackson Falls, a 30-person group of community members committed to protecting Jackson Falls, have until Oct. 31, 2016 to raise $600,000 and purchase the property, open its trails and ensure its long-term care. If not protected, the land could be cleared and subdivided, cutting the community off from the waterfalls.

Jackson Falls’ two waterfalls were formed by a 2,000-foot long stretch of Mann’s Creek that flows through a hundred-foot deep ravine. Its mature hemlock woods, vernal pools and forested wetland are home to migrating birds, breeding frogs and salamanders, and rare wildflowers. The property also includes mature headwater forests, which, along with the wetlands, are vital to maintaining water quality in the Buffalo River and Niagara River watersheds.

“We have an opportunity to protect our region’s water quality at the very source,” said Kerrie Gallo, deputy director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and co-chair of the Friends of Jackson Falls Committee. “One of the best ways to improve water quality and establish climate change resiliency in our region is through the protection of our remaining headwater forests.”

Jackson Falls was once owned by one of the last Roycrofters, Cecil Jackson, who bought the land seeking the authentic rural life that the Arts and Crafts movement romanticized. It was likely visited by Roycroft founder Elbert Hubbard, who had a cabin nearby. The revitalized Roycroft Campus is an incredible attraction in East Aurora and the protection of Jackson Falls can provide an additional destination for residents and visitors.

The property was actively listed on the real estate market until the Land Conservancy signed a contract with the current owners, three grandchildren of Roycrofter Cecil Jackson, who would like to see their family’s legacy forever protected.

“The Jackson family’s children were free to be wild explorers here — spotting woodpeckers as they flitted from tree to tree and uncovering salamanders and crayfish in the stream,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the Western New York Land Conservancy. “It’s our mission to protect transformative places like Jackson Falls so that future generations of children will always have those wonderful experiences.”

The $300,000 grant award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Joint Venture Habitat Restoration and Protection program brings the Land Conservancy past the halfway point for fundraising. There are just five months left until the Oct. 31 fundraising deadline. You can help the Friends of Jackson Falls and the Land Conservancy raise the $600,000 needed to create the Jackson Falls Preserve by October 2016. Donations to support this project are now being accepted by the Land Conservancy at www.wnylc.org/donate.

The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which open spaces, working lands, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York. The Land Conservancy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years. 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.

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