Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy Holds Grand Opening of New Preserve

Jay Stratton, donor and steward of the CWC’s Chautauqua Creek Oxbow Forest Preserve, cuts the ribbon on the Preserve’s grand opening on May 21. Photo Courtesy of Judy Maskrey

Article Contributed by
Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy recently held a grand opening for its 21-acre Chautauqua Creek Oxbow Forest Preserve on Lyons Road in the Town of Chautauqua. The opening included a spring wildflower walk, which was led by preserve steward Jay Stratton, JCC Biology Professor and CWC co-founder Becky Nystrom, and CWC Conservation Lands Manager Jonathan Townsend. The property was donated to the CWC by Jay Stratton in 2014, and many capital improvements followed, including the installation of a large rain garden, erosion controls, walking trails, bridge, preserve and trail signage, and interpretive kiosk. The New York State Department of Conservation acquired a public fishing rights easement from the CWC on the part of Chautauqua Creek that flows through the preserve, opening up 2,200 feet of the creek for legal, publically accessible trout fishing. The preserve is open for public use year-round from dawn until dusk. It is part of the CWC’s Chautauqua Watersheds Tributary Preserves and Wild Lands System, with the purposes of protecting drinking water supplies and conserving important fish and wildlife habitats. This Preserve System consists of 1,000 acres of land at 27 sites across the county.

The improvements to the preserve were supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program and New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Additional support was provided by members of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Holt Associates, NYSDEC Public Fishing Rights Program, Andy Johnson of EcoStrategies, and in-kind support from the Town of Chautauqua and many volunteers.