During the second half of 2021, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy continued to make upgrades and upgrades to many of its nature preserves, expanding the many opportunities for you to get out and connect with nature!
A new trail loop at the Dobbins Woods Preserve in Ashville has been marked and opened to the public, additional bog bridges have been installed around the rest of the trail, and a gazebo has been constructed at the Preserve’s trailhead. The kiosk provides a visual of what the trail network looks like and gives additional information about the trail and the ecosystem it passes through. A casual open house will be held at the reserve on Sunday, January 2 from 2-3:30 p.m. where the public is invited to tour and view the upgrades, experience the new loop trail, and enjoy complimentary refreshments and chat with staff of the CWC. Visit chautauquawatershed.org for more information.
The Pamela A. Westrom Wildflower Trail in Bentley Nature Preserve, just north of Jamestown, had its fair share of bumps and issues last summer, with downed trees and flooding, but is currently accessible to foot. The area can still be wet in places, so I recommend that you wear mud boots on your walk and be prepared to possibly turn around if the trail is flooded or blocked by trees chewed up by the beaver population resident who was very busy there last year! At last count, they had built a six-tier dam system across the reserve that has begun to raise water levels to “full bank” levels most of the time, which has the effect of making portions of the trail very wet, especially after heavy rains or, as will occur during the winter and spring, heavy snowmelt.
At Loomis Goose Creek Preserve, also located in Ashville, there is now a launch pad on the trail from the parking lot that will help visitors launch a canoe or kayak down Goose Creek. Launch is closed for use until May 2022, but we expect a nice full season of use for the new roller ramp next year. Many thanks to the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development for their assistance with the installation and to the New York State Environmental Protection Fund for their support of this public ramp.
Improvements to the Cassadaga Lakes Natural Park also continued with the addition of a beautiful pavilion and a wildlife observation post for public enjoyment. Along the trail, new primitive benches have been added in several places, inviting visitors to stop to listen to the forest and enjoy the surrounding nature.
Our featured preservation trails were well used by nature enthusiasts last year, with at least 3,500 visitor registrations in 2021 alone! We hope you continue to enjoy our reserves during these winter months, and if you visit a reserve with one of our bright blue sign-up boxes, be sure to let us know you were there.
As we all know, dogs love walking trails, as do their owners, and while dogs are welcome on our reserves, please ensure your four-legged friends are on a leash and, if they leave a “gift” on the trail, please pick it up properly and take it home.
Thanks for visiting our trails and reserves and keep connecting!
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty, and ecological health of lakes, streams, wetlands, and watersheds in the Chautauqua region. For more information, visit chautauquawatershed.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.