GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — Grand Island will be the home of a new 145-acre nature sanctuary thanks to the Western New York Land Conservancy.
The non-profit announced Monday that it purchased the land surrounding the Assumption Cemetery from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo for $269,000.
"We started talking to Catholic Cemeteries, and we worked out basically an arrangement that we would purchase this forest from them and protect it in perpetuity as a publicly accessible nature preserve," said Jajuan Rose-Burney, Western New York Land Conservancy deputy executive director.
The Land Conservancy raised $804,000 over the last 18 months, including a $568,000 grant from the Niagara River Greenway and a $200,000 gift from the Gallogly Family Foundation. The preserve will be named the Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary in honor of that private donation.
"What we used the rest of the money for is building the trails, and also make sure that we can endow our permanent management and operations of a nature preserve," Rose-Burney said.
The preserve will give the public access to both the Big and Little Six Mile Creeks, and will allow people to view wildlife including blue-spotted salamanders and various songbirds.
The conservancy is currently planning where the trails go before the building process begins in the spring.
"Let's make sure we're not hurting any of the ecology, but let's also make sure people can really experience some of the things that make the preserve really interesting," Rose-Burney said.
Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray says he's excited about the project, and says with the upcoming Scenic Woods project and the West River Greenway Connector Trail, a pattern is forming.
"You really are starting to see a new vision of what Grand Island is, which is in many ways a green haven between Buffalo and Niagara Falls," McMurray said.
The Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary is expected to be open to the public next fall with some of the trails completed.
The entire project could take up to two years.