The Bentley Nature Preserve has been a nature preserve since 1960. It was gifted to the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy by the Jamestown Audubon Society in 2016. The preserve offers a beautiful spot to hike, bike, cross-country ski or snowshoe through the woods. Visitors can enjoy CWC’s loop trail, which traverses foot bridges over the stream that weaves through the property, in any season. In spring and summer, many wildflowers can be found onsite, and the CWC maintains a dedicated wildflower garden near the parking area. The site also preserves habitat for local wildlife, and the stream passing through the Preserve drains into the Chautauqua Lake/Chadakoin River area, an important breeding ground for the spiny soft-shelled turtle (Apalone spinifera).
Size: 40 acres
Year Conserved by CWC: 2016
Conservation Values: The Bentley Nature Preserve protects a Chautauqua Lake tributary that empties to the lake less than a half mile downstream. The trees on the site stabilize the banks of the tributary, while the streambank vegetation filters stormwater runoff from the nearby highway and agricultural lands. Water from this preserve flows into an important breeding habitat for the spiny soft-shelled turtle.
Recreational Use: This preserve is excellent for hiking and is convenient to access. It has a well-maintained trail system, including a foot bridge over the stream. The park is fantastic for outdoor recreation, as well as for spotting local flora and fauna.
Location and Parking: Located in the town of Ellicott, the Bentley Nature Preserve is located less than a half mile from the eastern shore of Chautauqua Lake just south of Interstate 86. The preserve can be accessed from Bentley Avenue, off of Route 430, and there is a main preserve sign, small lane for parking and an informational kiosk at its entrance.
Features of Interest: The preserve is almost entirely forested, ranging from coniferous to deciduous forest habitat, with large areas of open and forested wetland.
Species of Interest:
Trees: tamarack (Larix laricina), black cherry (Prunus serotine), American mountain-ash (Sorbus Americana), box elder (Acer negundo)
Wildflowers: turtle-head (Chelone glabra), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), impatiens (Impatiens capensis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), great blue lobelia (Lobelia syphalitica), monkey flower (Mimulus ringens), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), starry false solomon’s seal (Smilacina stellate)
Shrubs: spicebush (Lindera benzoin), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), staghorn sumac (Rhustyphina), swamp rose (Rosa palustris), red raspberry (Rubus ideaus), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Reptiles and amphibians: spiny softshelled turtle (Apalone spinifera)
Birds: pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus), tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula)