Stella Niagara Preserve Receives $50,000 Grant from Houston-based Gallogly Family Foundation | Community Spirit
The Western New York Land Conservancy was recently awarded $50,000 from the Gallogly Family Foundation to help create the Stella Niagara Preserve, a new, publicly accessible nature preserve along the Niagara River in Lewiston, N.Y. The Land Conservancy has now received more than $2.7 million of the more than $3.2 million needed to create the Stella Niagara Preserve. Additional donations from the community are needed soon if the Stella Niagara Preserve is to become a reality.
The Stella Niagara Preserve property includes 29 acres of land on the west side of Lower River Road just north of the Village of Lewiston. It forms part of the 130-acre Stella Niagara Education Park, owned by the Sisters of St. Francis. The Sisters recently began evaluating their economic realities as part of a long range planning process and decided to sell this 29 acres. In keeping with the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sisters’ deeply held concern for the natural environment, the Sisters have asked the Land Conservancy to purchase this spectacular property and protect it for future generations to enjoy.
Although the Gallogly Family Foundation is based in Houston, Texas, the foundation has local ties. The foundation’s executive director, Kasey DeLuke, lives in Buffalo, and her in-laws live in Lewiston near the Stella Niagara Preserve property. Kasey said, “Earlier this year we saw the Land Conservancy’s Stella Niagara Preserve brochure in a local coffee shop. The preserve property is so well-known for its gorgeous views of the Niagara River that we decided to contribute. What’s more, the proceeds from the sale of the property to the Land Conservancy will help the Sisters of St. Francis sustain their programs for youth and women.”
With a quarter-mile of shoreline, the 29-acre Stella Niagara Preserve property is the largest undeveloped, privately-owned parcel of land left along the entire Niagara River. The property is home to significant Native American, War of 1812, and Franciscan history. The small chapel and peace memorial on the property have “sgraffito” murals by well-known Polish artist Joseph Slawinski. The property supports endangered and threatened species of plants and animals, supports highly productive fish spawning habitat, and is part of an internationally designated, globally significant Important Bird Area. The view from Lower River Road across the property to the river is breathtaking.
Once the land is acquired, the Land Conservancy will open it as the Stella Niagara Preserve and will provide walking trails, fishing access, and a place to put a kayak in the water. The Land Conservancy will also restore the property’s critical wildlife habitat, protect its historic structures and art, and carefully steward the property for future generations.
Nancy Smith, executive director of the Land Conservancy, said, “The Stella Niagara Preserve will help protect our region’s natural and cultural heritage. The preserve will add to our already high quality of life, and it will also have tremendous economic benefits. The preserve will generate spending on tourism and outdoor recreation, increase nearby property values and local tax revenue, and provide valuable ecosystem services like flood control and water filtration.”
Of the more than $3.2 million project cost, $2.25 million will go to the Sisters through the sale of the property. This will help the Sisters support their elementary school which has 170 students enrolled, as well as the 60 sisters who live on campus. The Sisters also offer educational and health programs to academically struggling, low-income youth from Niagara Falls, and offer a respite program for low-income single mothers, grandmothers raising grandchildren, and women with cancer.
The $50,000 grant from the Gallogly Family Foundation comes at an important time. The Land Conservancy and the newly formed Friends of the Stella Niagara Preserve are trying to complete fundraising and purchase the property prior to June of 2015, when a large portion of the already received funding may expire. With this donation from the Gallogly Family Foundation, there is still a $540,000 funding gap. It is critical that local donors – residents, businesses, and foundations alike – step up now and donate to help create the Stella Niagara Preserve.
All donations to the Stella Niagara Preserve are tax-deductible. Donations can be made on the Land Conservancy’s website (www.wnylc.org), or by sending a check made payable to the “Western New York Land Conservancy” to P.O. Box 471, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052. Donations of all amounts are helpful, and there are several different naming opportunities for donors who contribute $10,000 or more. For questions, please contact the Land Conservancy by calling Executive Director Nancy Smith at (716) 687-1225 or emailing her at email@example.com. Please join this effort and make the Stella Niagara Preserve a part of your legacy!
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 future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which 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 one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years.
For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.