SALAMANCA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Western New York Land Conservancy announced Saturday that they and Friends of the Allegany Wildlands have reached their fundraising goal to save the Allegany Wildlands.

The 200-acre forest will be permanently protected and become part of the nonprofit conservancy’s Western New York Wildway. The conservancy and friends received gifts totaling $310,000 over the summer, matched by the community. In December, the conservancy was awarded $347,000 by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, concluding the campaign.

The Allegany Wildlands represent a significant link in a future Wildway, located between Allegany State Park and South Valley State Forest. The Wildway concept is described by the conservancy as “a connected corridor of protected lands that stretches from the vast forests of northern Pennsylvania to the Great Lakes, through to the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks and beyond.”

“One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is seeing our community rally around a common goal,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the conservancy. “The Allegany Wildlands is an astonishing forest that’s already connected to 7,000 acres of protected state land, making it a huge step toward our long-term goal of establishing the Western New York Wildway. We couldn’t be more thrilled to save it permanently.”

According to the conservancy, the Wildway will allow plants and animals to migrate across the land as they once did, as well as allowing species that have disappeared from the region to return home and allowing those in need of new homes as the climate changes.

“This ambitious plan will help New York meet its climate-mitigation goals and will keep our state at the vanguard of a broad, nationwide effort to conserve valuable land for future generations,” said Mark Mistretta, western district director of NYS Parks.

The land conservancy is entering the final stages of purchasing the land from the Sluga family, and the sale will be finalized this year. A walking trail will be created upon the sale’s finalization and the land conservancy will keep the forest open year-round as a publicly accessible nature preserve.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.

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