Weekly Feature

2016-05-19 / Local News

Conservancy awarded $300,000, now halfway to protecting Jackson Falls

The Western New York Land Conservancy has recently received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect a 57-acre property in the Town of Aurora, according to a press release from the conservancy.

The land, known as Jackson Falls, has two waterfalls and ties to Roycroft history, the release said.

Once protected, the land 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 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, thus 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 100-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, the release said.

“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 property was actively listed on the real estate market until the Land Conservancy signed a contract with the current owners, three grandchildren of the 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 fundraising deadline. Donations to support this project are now being accepted by the Land Conservancy at www.wnylc.org/donate.

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