Cassadaga Creek

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Cassadaga Creek meanders through the center of the 151-acre Cassadaga Creek Preserve. The floodplains and wetlands on the preserve help ensure that runoff and floodwaters filter slowly through the creek. The Cassadaga Creek Preserve is one of the best CWC preserves for observing wildlife. It is home to beavers, river otters, fisher, mink, deer and other wildlife, and it’s an excellent spot to birdwatch.

Size: 151 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 1998

Conservation Values:  The preserve’s floodplain wetlands allow floodwater from Cassadaga Creek to collect and slowly infiltrate, minimizing erosion and sedimentation downstream.  Trees protect and stabilize the bank of the creek. Water is filtered through riparian vegetation, improving water quality in the watershed.

Features of Interest:  Cassadaga Creek flows north to south through the middle of the preserve. Wetlands, meadows, shrubs and three abandoned farm fields interrupt the otherwise forested area.  

Recreational Use:  There are currently no developed trails or other facilities within the preserve, although an abandoned county road bisects the property and makes for quick and easy access to the creek. Primary recreation use consists of deer hunting, and the preserve is ideally situated for canoe and kayak access, as it is located between two canoe launches on the Cassadaga Creek Marden E. Cobb Waterway, upstream on CR 71 and downstream on CR 66.

Location and Parking: Accessible from Bloomer Road (County Rd. 56), half a mile West of county Route 380 in South Stockton. Parts of Bloomer Road are gated off from through traffic due to the deteriorating condition of two bridges. There is a sign near the west entrance of the preserve. The preserve also accessible by light watercraft from Cassadaga Creek.

Species of Interest:

Trees: Black cherry (Prunus serotina), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), American elm (Ulmus americana), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), black willow (Salix nigra), box elder (A. negundo)

Understory: American hornbeam (Carpinus carolinina), hawthorne (Crataegus spp.)

Shrubs: Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), raspberries (Rubus spp.), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

Ground layer: Thinly vegetated due to dense shading, includes witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana), beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana), common wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) skunk cabbage (S. foetidus) and sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp.)

Wildflowers: Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), blue flag iris (Iris versicolor), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate), asters (Aster spp.), turtlehead (Chelone glabra), pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Turk’s cap lily (Lilium superbum), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), square-stem monkey flower (Mimulus ringens), water purslane (Ludwigia palustris)

Mammals: North American beaver (Castor canadensis), river otter (Lontra canadensis), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), fisher (Martes pennanti), mink (Neovison vison)

Birds: Spotted sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), wood duck (Aix sponsa), chestnut-sided warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica), belted kingfisher (Ceryle torquata), veery (Catharus fuscescens), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Mussels: 15 species, including rayed bean (Villosa fabalis), clubshell (Pleurobema clava)

Fish: Redfin shiner (Lythrurus umbratilis)

Browns Creek Tributary

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Situated in the hills of the Ellery Township, this property was acquired in 2016 through a generous donation of land. As Browns Creek is a tributary of Bemus Creek, the water passing through the wetlands on site ultimately enters Chautauqua Lake. The property features well-maintained trails for hiking and wildlife spotting, and a future platform to be constructed near the pond will allow for birdwatching and fishing.

Size: 31 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2016

Conservation Values: The preserve’s forests allow rainwater to collect and slowly infiltrate, minimizing erosion and sedimentation downstream.  Trees protect and stabilize the bank of the small stream passing through the property, which ultimately drains into Chautauqua Lake. Water is filtered through riparian vegetation, improving water quality in the watershed.

Recreational Use: Trails established by the land donor have been well maintained and expanded by CWC volunteers. Hunting is permitted at this property. Other uses include birdwatching and botanical investigations.

Location and Parking: Located on Walker Road in the Town of Ellery, the Browns Creek Tributary Forest Preserve has pull-in parking near the main preserve sign, as well as roadside parking.  

Features of Interest: An open and quiet woodland setting makes for a peaceful hike through this Preserve. A pond on site provides opportunity for wildlife watching as well as fishing.

Species of Interest:

Trees: Eastern hemlock (Tusga canadensis),  pignut hickory (Carya glabra), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), black cherry (Prunus serotina),

Shrubs: Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum),

Wildflowers: Canadian lily of the valley (Maianthemum canadense), Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), white turtlehead (Chelone glabra), eastern swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Birds: Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), mourning warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia), wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)

Bentley Preserve

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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)