A beetle assault on the Olmsted parks' 1,200 ash trees has put an added strain on the conservatory's forestry needs and the ability to pay for them.
Thanks to Delaware North, that financial burden will now be lessened.
The Buffalo-based concessions and hospitality conglomerate announced Thursday it will put up $100,000 for each of the next three years for the parks' forestry department.
The money also will help pay for removing limbs from dying or damaged trees among the 14,000 trees at the eight Olmsted parks, and also pay the parks' reforesting efforts. Both are labor-intensive. The young trees need water, mulch and pruning to grow straight.
"Olmsted's parks are integral to the unique character of Buffalo," said Lou Jacobs, co-CEO of Delaware North. "Delaware North is thrilled to support the efforts of Mayor Brown and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy to preserve these green spaces for future generations."
Stephanie Crockatt, the conservatory's executive director, expressed gratitude for the company's support.
"Delaware North has been an incredible partner for a number of years," Crockatt said. "This is the biggest gift they've given us."
The only other private donation of this magnitude the parks organization has received is a 10-year, $1 million grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which is reserved for Martin Luther King Park's Splash Pad and Ice Rink.
"The generosity of Delaware North is wonderful news for the historic Olmsted Park system as the conservancy continues to manage one of Buffalo's greatest assets," Mayor Byron W. Brown said. "I'm also pleased that these funds will enable the conservancy to hire more of our young people through my Summer Youth Program to assist with forestry efforts, while learning valuable skills."
Because of the damage wrought by the emerald ash borer, about 100 ashes trees are inoculated each year, requiring a vaccine in two successive years. The cost is $110 per tree.
There's no guarantee the preventative medicine will succeed with each tree, either. A cure, or the development of a new strain of ash tree more resistant to the emerald ash borer is the best hope for the future, she said.