First-ever acquisition in Steuben County for Genesee Valley Conservancy, which protects Genesee River watershed
WAYLAND — The Genesee Valley Conservancy has acquired an important parcel along Mill Creek in Wayland.
This 50 acre forested property buffers two branches of Mill Creek, a trout stream, that flows into the Canaseraga before entering the Genesee River and eventually Lake Ontario.
The primary appeal of this property is the two branches of Mill Creek that support spawning trout populations. Brook Trout and Brown Trout are found in these sections of the creek.
Brook Trout are native to New York State and Brown Trout, introduced in 1880’s, are considered a naturalized species – having lived locally long enough that they are integrated into the local ecosystem. Trout only survive in the cleanest and coldest of waters and their presence is an indication of a stream’s health. Trout are one of the first species to disappear as a stream degrades from toxins, warmth (due to lack of shade), or due to sediment from erosion and runoff.
The creeks (and trout) are small on this property, which is in the upper reaches of the watershed, but protecting these headwaters of Mill Creek directly benefits the downstream fishing access opportunities that are open to the public. As a natural spawning grounds for trout, this property is critical to the lifecycle of trout throughout Mill Creek. Over two miles of pubic fishing rights exist downstream of this parcel that will benefit from its protection.
How it happened
The property was acquired from The Nature Conservancy, to whom the property was left through a bequest. The Nature Conservancy recognized the size and location of the parcel were well-suited to the goals of the Genesee Valley Conservancy. Both not-for-profits share similar conservation missions, but Genesee Valley Conservancy only works within the Genesee River watershed. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to conserve the lands on which all life depends, across the globe, as well as locally throughout western and central New York.
Since being contacted about this possible project and collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, Genesee Valley Conservancy evaluated the property and considered how it would fit into the organization’s mission, long term strategic planning, and financial budgeting. Site visits by staff, acquisition and stewardship committee members this summer resulted in an enthusiastic approval to move forward with acquiring the parcel from The Nature Conservancy which was completed this week. Regional Impact
This acquisition is just the fourth nature preserve owned by Genesee Valley Conservancy; the majority of the 17,800 acres conserved by the organization are through voluntary land protection agreements with private landowners on working farms, forests, and important open space.
The Mill Creek property provides the first presence for the organization in the Wayland/Dansville area and is the first project for the organization in Steuben County. The Conservancy has completed conservation projects in seven counties since its founding in 1990.
Over the next year, Genesee Valley Conservancy will work to create a management plan tailored to the property, ensuring protections to Mill Creek for trout habitat while also striving to include other wildlife protection, education and recreation opportunities for the community.
During the management planning process in 2019, various expert groups will be consulted to ensure a well-rounded plan is created that incorporates the many possibilities for this property. The local Trout Unlimited chapter will be consulted on stream health and trout habitat. The New York State Forest Owners Association, an organization that encourages private landowners to use forestry professionals in creating long-term forest stewardship plans, will be consulted on forestry management practices to help improve forest health and ensure a diverse forest exists for wildlife.
The Mill Creek property is just 8 minutes from Wayland-Cohocton Central School and only 15 minutes from Dansville Central School. Both districts may become future partners by using this property as an outdoor classroom to conduct real world experiments, data collection, and identification.
Support this project
To support the planning and establishment of the Mill Creek property, you can make a gift to Genesee Valley Conservancy today or contact Ben Gajewski, Executive Director, to discuss the larger needs of acquiring this property, creating a management plan, and the major establishment costs that will be needed to open the property to the community.
For more info, visit http://www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org