Pittsford dedicates Erie Canal Nature Preserve
Pittsford Supervisor Bill Smith, Town Board members, project partners and local dignitaries recently gathered for the official ribbon-cutting of the town’s new Erie Canal Nature Preserve.
The 20 acre preserve, located along the Erie Canalway Towpath Trail, encompasses natural wetlands, woodlands and meadows on the north side of the canal near the western town-village line. Together with the adjoining property owned by the village, it is part of 30 contiguous acres of natural habitat to be preserved permanently.
“We chose to create a new park in the heart of our community that serves not only the residents of our community, but also the wild creatures and plants that reside here,” Smith said. “Most importantly, we chose to permanently protect this area, to allow future generations of people, plants and wildlife to thrive here.”
The Erie Canal Nature Preserve protects and conserves unspoiled land with a unique ecology in the heart of Pittsford. Located between the Erie Canal and Auburn Trail on town-owned land in the village, it includes a frog breeding habitat with four ponds and adjacent wetlands.
The town made significant, but low-impact, improvements to the area that make the site accessible. The preserve offers a creekside rest area with overlooks of the frog ponds and meadows, and includes an elevated boardwalk trail allowing minimal-impact access to the wetlands. The newly created trail connects the Canal Towpath with the Auburn Trail.
The project was funded in part by a New York State Department of State grant in the amount of $177,250, which covered half of the project cost. The rest was covered by a local match/in-kind services by the town. Public Works Commissioner Paul Schenkel and Parks Foreman Jess Neal worked with landscape architect Sue Steele to design the project.
“From the grant application process to the on-site work to [the] ribbon cutting, there has been a team of highly dedicated and creative individuals working many, many hours to make our Nature Preserve a reality,” Smith said. “This unique open space will serve, for generations to come, as an inspiring respite for people and a thriving, healthy natural habitat for the variety of plants and wildlife that call it home.”
The town announced plans for a native plants and pollinator garden at the site, as part of a larger plan for pollinator-friendly sites using native species throughout the town. The garden will provide information about the benefits of native plantings, and will serve as a model for residents who wish to create their own native planting garden to support pollinators such as bees, butterflies, birds and other insects.
The Erie Canal Nature Preserve entrance is located along the Erie Canalway Trail, a short walk east from the Monroe Avenue Bridge or west from the North Main Street Bridge. Access to the preserve also is available via the section of the Auburn Trail behind the Old Pickle Factory building at 1 Grove St.