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Land conservancy to preserve 8-acre lakeshore property in Evans

A “cold call” to the Western New York Land Conservancy will result in the preservation of an 8-acre forest on the Lake Erie shoreline in Evans.

“In an average week, we get at least one phone call from an owner who says, ‘Can you help me save my land?’ ” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the land conservancy. “This one we knew was really important.”

The owner, who wants to remain anonymous, has one of the few remaining undeveloped tracts of land along the Lake Erie shoreline.

The property sits on a bluff overlooking the lake. The parcel has a variety of trees, including oak, hickory, beech, maple, hemlock, basswood and American hophornbeam, and some of them are more than 100 years old. Birds find food and shelter during spring and fall migrations, and scattered wetlands provide habitat for frogs, toads and salamanders, according to the land conservancy.

The conservancy still needs about $16,000 to pay for closing costs necessary to accept the donation, and has until March 31 to raise the money.

“Most of the property along the lake shore has houses on it, and this does not,” Smith said. “The bluff has a beautiful view.”

She said the Erie County Parks Department is interested in taking ownership of the property and creating a natural habitat park. If that occurred, there would be access for passive recreation.

“It’s always a tricky thing to balance those two competing uses,” Smith said. “It’s an amazing wildlife habitat, but people need to connect with nature.”

The conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York.