Kenneglenn Estate (NY) Permanently Protected as Nature Preserve

East Aurora, NY: The Western New York Land Conservancy, the Friends of Kenneglenn, and the Trust for Public Land announced on December 15 the purchase of the Kenneglenn estate in the Town of Wales. The 130-acre property is now permanently protected as a nature preserve.

The Kenneglenn preserve is an ecological, scenic, and historic treasure. Abutting the spectacular 150-foot Hunter’s Creek gorge, the estate features a wide diversity of landscapes including wetlands, forest and beautiful views of the gently rolling hills characteristic of southern Erie County.

“It was only a year ago that the Friends of Kenneglenn, the Western New York Land Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land met to embark on the dream-a dream to preserve this beautifully scenic gorge with its creek, forest, and geological treasure as a place to hike, to learn, and to soak in its natural peace and tranquility,” said Jack Printzenhoff of the Friends of Kenneglenn.

Under the stewardship of the Western New York Land Conservancy, a not-for-profit land trust whose mission is to preserve open space, Kenneglenn will be a wildlife preserve available to the public for hiking, nature study, and educational programs. The estate adjoins county-owned natural lands, forming a greenway along Hunters Creek. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization, used its legal and real estate expertise to help make this purchase a reality.

The cooperation of the former landowners, the Tirrell and Kennedy families, was instrumental in the success of this protection effort. “This property has been in our family for generations and it was important to us to ensure its protection as a nature preserve,” said Stanley Tirrell.

The project to protect this unique piece of land represented a creative partnership of the landowners, local government officials, citizens and local and national land trusts. “This has been a model public-private partnership, with each partner contributing significantly to protect this important property,” said Clark Wallace, TPL project manager who negotiated the terms of the purchase.

In February 2000, a $400,000 capital campaign was initiated to raise the funds necessary to preserve Kenneglenn. To date, more than $346,000 of the $400,000 goal has been raised. $290,000 was used for the purchase. The campaign is still underway to secure additional funds for property improvements needed to make the property accessible to the public and to cover stewardship costs for long-term maintenance.

The dream of protecting Kenneglenn was made a reality through generous grant funding from New York State, local foundations, and corporations and contributions from private individuals. Major donations included a $160,000 grant under the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act awarded by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and additional state funds awarded through the efforts of Senator Dale Volker and Assemblyman Brian Higgins. Foundation and corporate support came from the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, the Seymour H. Knox Foundation, the Hahn Family Foundation, M & T Bank and others.

“Raising the money to protect this land seemed like a long shot, but with the effort of dedicated people it has now been accomplished,” said Printzenhoff of the Friends of Kenneglenn. “I remember the comment of George Dunn, 90-year-old member of Friends of Kenneglenn who said ‘A man likes to know in his lifetime on earth that he has helped with one big thing. And this is mine.'”

The role of the Western New York Land Conservancy is to partner with people and organizations to better accomplish mutual goals of resource protection. “I am gratified that the Kenneglenn project has succeeded as the result of the joint efforts of the Friends of Kenneglenn, the Trust for Public Land, and the Conservancy. The value of land trusts to the people of Western New York is evident and the vision of caring people is something to be proud of,” said Paul Lehman, President of the Western New York Land Conservancy.

Those interested in contributing to the Kenneglenn capital campaign are invited to call the Western New York Land Conservancy’s offices at 687-1225. The Trust for Public Land, founded in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. To date, TPL has helped protect more than a million acres, valued at more than $1.8 billion. TPL has helped protect more than 55,000 acres in New York State since 1981.