The Western New York Land Conservancy recognized the acquisition of the first protected property on the Niagara Escarpment, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.
Bordering Leete Road in Lockport, the 36-acre property contains 1,000 feet of the Niagara Escarpment, prime soils, 21 acres of contiguous mature hardwood forest with several unique woodland plants, and 10 acres of restored grassland habitat.
Until recently the home of the Young Family Farm, the land acquisition followed the retirement of Frances Young Harrison from active farming in the county at age 87. Young, a third generation member of Young family farmers, and her family chose to honor their family's heritage by bestowing to the county The Frank L. and Julia Dersham Young Niagara Escarpment Preserve. "It is our family's hope that this site of natural beauty will be a touchstone to county students and residents, so that all may appreciate the very beginning of our agrarian culture," says Francis Harrison.
Since 1888, when Peter Young settled near Lockport, the Young family has farmed in Niagara County. Through wars, the Depression and prosperity, the family has cleared fields and grown hay, corn, wheat, soybeans, and tomatoes. They have grazed dairy cows, tapped sugar maple trees and developed vineyards, fruit orchards and tree farms. Peter's son, Frank L. Young, expanded the farm and also served the Town of Lockport as school trustee, justice of the peace, and assessor.
This is the first section of the Niagara Escarpment in Niagara County to be set aside for preservation in its natural state.
The Niagara Escarpment represents a unique geological formation often associated with unusual plants and ecological communities. One of 10 unique biospheres in the world, this ancient ribbon of land cuts through the county and is responsible for the specific weather, soil conditions, and hydrology that define the county's heritage and economy. The Escarpment is responsible for the dramatic beauty of Niagara Falls, contributed to signature rises and ravines of the Underground Railroad, and enabled the intricate lock system of the Erie Canal.
Completing this project represents the long cherished conservation values of Francis Harrison and her family, according to the WNY Land Conservancy.