At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, Western New York Land Conservancy will present findings from the Niagara Escarpment Legacy Project at the Pekin Fire Hall, 3024 Upper Mountain Road, Sanborn. The presentation is the culmination of more than a year of work. It is part of the Land Conservancy's efforts to increase awareness of the importance of the escarpment, and also to find ways to protect its important resources.
The Niagara Escarpment is a unique geologic formation that extends from Wisconsin, through Ontario, and into Western New York. The Niagara Escarpment Legacy Project is the first comprehensive study of the cultural history and ecological features of the portion of the Niagara Escarpment in Niagara County. The project, which included field surveys of 20 properties along the escarpment during 2013, was funded by a $316,673 grant from the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee. It was completed in partnership with Ecology & Environment Inc., with support from members of the Niagara Frontier Botanical Society. The project was also supported by numerous elected officials in municipalities along the escarpment, as well as many other stakeholders that formed the project's steering committee.
Tim DePriest, chairman of the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee, said, "The completion of this project is an important milestone for conservation on the Niagara Escarpment. The Canadian side of the escarpment has been well-studied, and even internationally designated as a Biosphere Reserve because of its ecological diversity. We now know much more about the escarpment in Niagara County, and have a strategy for protecting its most important resources."
The project paints a detailed portrait of the escarpment from scientific and historical perspectives, and creates an argument for preserving the important cultural and natural heritage that exists there.
Nancy Smith, executive director of the Land Conservancy, said, "The escarpment is a geological marvel; a treasure trove of ecological diversity; a scenic wonder; and a living history exhibit. The escarpment holds flora, fauna, fossils, soils, waterways and wetlands in an astonishing variety for so small an area of land."
State Sen. George D. Maziarz said, "The Niagara Escarpment has played a prominent role in the history of our region, yet many are unaware of its importance. This project will help draw more attention to the escarpment and bring visitors to its numerous attractions, like the many great parks and preserves along its ridges, the wineries it is home to, and the Erie Canal locks in Lockport."
Over the centuries, the Niagara Escarpment has played host to human activities from groups as varied as Native Americans, European settlers, armies, escaping African-American slaves, farmers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, miners and commercial shippers. Despite the constant and sometimes destructive activity of its human inhabitants and visitors, the escarpment has shown itself to be forgiving, resilient, and constantly awe-inspiring. However, WNYLC members said the escarpment needs careful stewardship if it is to remain such a valuable and timeless resource.
The project sets goals for the conservation, restoration and future stewardship of this unique landscape, including the identification of specific properties that will be considered for future preservation, and then outlines strategies that stakeholders from the private and public sector can use to reach those goals. It also recommends funding sources.
The Land Conservancy has begun working with owners of priority properties to find voluntary and mutually beneficial ways of preserving their land.
Congressman Chris Collins said, "I applaud the work of Land Conservancy and Ecology and Environment, the stakeholders that contributed to the project, and the numerous communities along the escarpment that supported this work. Protecting and promoting the great natural and cultural resources along the Niagara Escarpment will be good for our environment, economy and quality of life."
The presentation at the Pekin Fire Hall is free and open to the public. Contact the Land Conservancy with questions (call 716-687-1225 or email [email protected]). The full Niagara Escarpment Legacy Project report will be available on the Land Conservancy's website soon (www.wnylc.org).
The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that has helped protect more than 6,000 acres of land with significant conservation values in Western New York for the benefit of future generations. The organization is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York, which have protected 40 million acres over the past 20 years. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, call 716-687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.