Forestland Along Lake Ontario Protected in Webster, NY

Webster, NY, February 16, 2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Town of Webster announced today the permanent protection of three properties located within several hundred feet of Lake Ontario, creating 262 acres of new parks.

The first property, 68 acres along Lake Road known as the Big Woods, was donated by the Gosnell family to the town and the Genesee Land Trust.

The town purchased an adjacent 92 acres of woods and fields along Baker and Pellett Roads from the Gosnell family. These properties connect to 130 acres that the Gosnells sold to Webster with TPL’s help in 2004. The town also purchased a third property, 102 acres of woods and fields owned by the Hale family. This property is also adjacent to the 130 acres previously purchased by the town and the 550-acre county-owned Webster Park. Today’s announcement heralds the creation of a 942-acre contiguous publicly-owned and protected natural area. The land will be managed by the Town of Webster as a passive nature preserve, available to the public for uses such as hiking.

“The purchase of these properties demonstrates the town’s commitment to a long-range plan that will ensure open space in the community of Webster for current and future generations,” said Webster Town Supervisor Ronald W. Nesbitt.

Webster has a goal to purchase and protect more than 1,000 acres in six diverse geographic areas throughout the town. To date, Webster has protected 893 of the planned 1,000 acres.

“The Town of Webster has proven itself a leader in land conservation in western New York. Without the town’s commitment, and the willingness of the Gosnell and Hale families to see their properties conserved, this land would not have been protected for public use and enjoyment,” said Clark Wallace, project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

“The New York congressional delegation was also critical to the success of this protection effort, and we appreciate their hard work to secure federal funding to ensure that this land is protected in perpetuity,” said Wallace.

The $1.9 million used to purchase these properties was provided by Webster’s open space fund, created when town voters passed a $5.9 million bond in 2004. Additional funding was provided by an appropriation to the town, secured by the New York congressional delegation from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This deal is an example of how open space preservation is supposed to work,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “The town of Webster got 262 acres of pristine property for future generations to enjoy. It’s a win-win for the town, the families, and preservation. I am pleased to announce this gift for the future of the Town of Webster in partnership with The Trust for Public Land. I send my congratulations to the residents of Webster, and commend them for continuing to preserve lands for future generations.”

“I am so pleased that we were able to secure federal funding to help acquire this land. The preservation of open space is one of the most important gifts we can give to the community and to future generations. The conservation of these properties provides a wonderful opportunity for Webster residents to make a long term investment in the environment and the community,” said Senator Hillary Clinton, who helped secure $750,000 in the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for the acquisition of land for public space in the town.

“The Town of Webster has undertaken an impressive plan to preserve greenspace and open space. Over 18 percent of the town has already been declared forever green,” said Rep. Jim Walsh (NY-25). “The federal funding that Senator Clinton and I secured for this purchase will enable the town to add to that land bank and secure a premier location on Lake Road for public use and enjoyment for generations to come.”

The 68-acre Big Woods parcel being donated by the Gosnell family contains old growth forest of oak, hickory, and hemlock trees up to 350 years old. The property has been identified on the New York Directory of Ancient Forests as one of the largest old growth forests owned by private individuals in New York. To provide additional resources for this area’s permanent protection and stewardship, the Gosnell family donated a conservation easement to the Genesee Land Trust, and the underlying property to the Town of Webster, ensuring that the land trust and the town will collaborate closely on the maintenance and management of this property in perpetuity.

“Preserving the natural heritage of a local old growth forest is a living gift to the people of Webster and our entire region,” said Gay Mills, executive director of the Genesee Land Trust. “We are honored to carry on the legacy of the Gosnell family in protecting the Big Woods and pleased to be a partner with the Town of Webster and The Trust for Public Land in this terrific land conservation project.”

New York State’s Great Lakes shoreline is a resource of the utmost recreational and ecological significance. Protection of the Webster properties is part of The Trust for Public Land’s Great Lakes Greenprint, an effort to identify and preserve important properties in the New York Great Lakes watershed. The greenprint, currently in development, will take a comprehensive look at opportunities for land protection and public access along the shorelines of lakes Erie and Ontario and their major tributaries in New York. The greenprint work is supported by Henry Philip Kraft Memorial Fund, the West Hill Foundation for Nature, and Sarah K. de Coizart Article TENTH Perpetual Charitable Trust.

The Trust for Public Land ( conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states. Within New York’s Great Lakes watershed, The Trust for Public Land has completed 47 projects totaling more than 8,200 acres.

The Genesee Land Trust ( the local land trust committed to preserving and protecting significant natural areas in the greater Rochester area. The Trust owns and manages nine nature preserves in six towns, protects natural lands and farmland with conservation agreements with individual landowners, and partners with towns to create nature parks and to preserve farmland. Visit: