WNY Land Conservancy to buy nature preserve on Niagara River

May 11, 2015

A hiking trail at Stella Niagara.
Credit Western New York Land Conservancy / WBFO News

A stretch of undeveloped land along the Niagara River in Lewiston is about $100,000 away from having a new owner. The Western New York Land Conservancy has nearly the full amount required to buy 29 acres from the Sister of St. Francis, to be maintained as a nature preserve.

The Stella Niagara Preserve holds within it the history of the Niagara region’s native people and a key strategic site for the War of 1812. If you search within it, you might even stumble on sgraffito murals – a type of artistry that exists in only a handful of places around the world.

“We will need other partners to help us gain the expertise to properly steward those resources,” said Nancy Smith, Western New York Land Conservancy's Executive Director. Smith said the group is looking to work with experts from Albright Knox and Buffalo State College.

The chapel at Stella Niagara.
Credit Western New York Land Conservancy / WBFO News

Along with natural and cultural highlights, Smith sees the potential for the site’s walking trails, kayak launch, and fishing site as an economic boost for the region's already established tourism.

“When people come to visit Niagara Falls, this will be an additional destination for our region’s visitors,” said Smith.

Of course none of this may come to pass without another $105,000. It is all that stands between the Land Conservancy and paying the site’s $3.2 million price tag. It has to happen by June 1, the deadline for the sale.

Smith said preserving the site is not only what the Sister of St. Francis wants for parting with the land, but a matter of improving the quality of life for the region.

More information on the Stella Niagara Preserve can be found here.