The Western New York Land Conservancy is pleased to announce that it has officially purchased Mossy Point, the 216-acre Wales property adjacent to its Kenneglenn Scenic and Nature Preserve. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Mossy Point and the Land Conservancy community, which together raised $1.6 million, this land will be protected forever.
Mossy Point is located at the headwaters of the Niagara River along Hunters Creek near East Aurora, and it is a vital component of a much larger ecosystem, one that safeguards the Niagara watershed, the source of our region’s fresh water. In protecting this property, the community has protected fresh drinking water for future generations and reduced flooding in Erie County. The deep woods also provide important habitat for nesting Great-horned Owls and woodland warblers. Wildflowers and ferns cover the forest floor in the spring. Beautiful hemlocks give the land color even during the snowiest winters. The clear waters of Hunters Creek flow over small shale ledges into cool pools below year-round.
During the past two years, the Land Conservancy and the Friends of Mossy Point undertook an ambitious fundraising campaign to protect the property. “The campaign to Save Mossy Point is an important reminder of just what our community can accomplish when it bands together in common cause,” said Nancy Smith, the Land Conservancy’s Executive Director. “When you raise funds to protect land, getting to this stage is never a guarantee. But so many individuals, businesses, and organizations stepped up and believed in Mossy Point. It was a tremendous effort by all involved, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to finally, officially, save Mossy Point.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation played a significant role in the early stages of the campaign by awarding the Land Conservancy with a $655,000 Water Quality Improvement grant. This grant helped spur others to support the cause. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is excited to partner with the Western New York Land Conservancy and the surrounding community to help protect their drinking water resources through the State’s Water Quality Improvement Project Program. The Mossy Point Forest acquisition, now part of a 1,100-acre contiguous protected forest, will provide significant source water benefits to the Niagara watershed for years to come and is one of many great outcomes of the billions of dollars New York State is investing to protect water quality here in Western New York and across the state.”
Mossy Point, combined with the adjacent Kenneglenn Scenic and Nature Preserve and Hunters Creek County Park, now forms one of the largest patches of protected forests in the entire Niagara River watershed. The process of building trails for walking, cross-country, and snowshoe hikes will begin soon. Upon completion of the trail system, the land will be publicly accessible year-round for everyone to enjoy.
With the purchase of Mossy Point complete, the Land Conservancy will now pivot to its campaign to save the College Lodge Forest near Fredonia in Chautauqua County. The College Lodge Forest is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the entire region. It is home to old-growth groves of trees, colorful orchids, and even bryozoan which are sometimes called freshwater coral. The Land Conservancy must raise $790,000 by the end of this year to protect the College Lodge Forest and keep it open as a publicly accessible nature preserve.
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 the benefit of 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 1,000+ land trusts nationwide, including 87 in New York State. Land trusts have protected over 56 million acres of land.