Webster, NY, Celebrates New Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

Webster, NY, 6/1/06: The Trust for Public Land, the Town of Webster, the Genesee Land Trust, and the Gosnell family will be joined by U.S. Congressman Jim Walsh to officially celebrate the new Gosnell Big Woods Preserve. The 160-acre property at the corner of Vosburg and Drumm roads is now a Town of Webster Preserve after the Gosnell family donated 68 acres of old growth forest known as the Big Woods to the town and the Genesee Land Trust, and sold another 92 acres of woods and fields to the town. The transaction was negotiated by The Trust for Public Land.

The Trust for Public Land also negotiated the purchase by the town of an additional 102 acres of land along Whiting Road from the Hale family, bringing the total of recently protected land to 262 acres. 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.

Congressman Jim Walsh (NY-25) said, “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. 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.”

“This latest acquisition of property is an acknowledgement of the Town of Webster’s solid commitment to the preservation of open space in our community. We made a promise to Webster residents to maintain our pristine environment. The Gosnell Big Woods Preserve is just another example of how the town government is living up to its promises,” said Webster Town Supervisor Ronald W. Nesbitt.

“This is a great day for Webster,” said Clark Wallace, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “Thanks to the town’s forward thinking plan, the generosity of the Gosnell family, the support of the NY congressional delegation, and the ongoing stewardship of the Genesee Land Trust, a legacy has been left today for future generations.”

The protection effort also marks a historic point in the town’s land conservation work. The town has protected approximately 900 of the 1,000 acres outlined for protection in its 2001 open space plan, which targets land in six diverse geographic areas throughout the town.

“The Gosnell family has given an incredible natural legacy to Webster, and to the entire community, with the protection of the exceptional old growth forest along Lake Road and the expansive open field along Baker and Vosburg Roads. Genesee Land Trust is proud to have partnered with the Town of Webster and The Trust for Public Land in making this project happen and is looking forward to an ongoing partnership in preservation,” said Gay Mills, executive director of the Genesee Land Trust.

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 was unable to attend, but said in a statement, “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.”

The Big Woods, which had been owned by the Gosnell family for more than 100 years, contains old growth forest of oak, hickory, and hemlock trees up to 350 years old. The property had 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. The property connect to 130 acres that the Gosnells sold to Webster with The Trust for Public Land’s help in 2004.

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 Trust for Public Land (www.tpl.org) 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 is 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: www.geneseelandtrust.org.