college lodge forest

The College Lodge Forest in Chautauqua County near Fredonia is one of the most exquisite natural areas remaining in Western New York. There are groves of ancient hemlocks and a thriving marsh. Trillium, orchids, and lilies cover the forest floor. 

Take a virtual tour: 

A cherished community gathering place

The College Lodge Forest has been loved for generations. In 1939, during the Great Depression, Fredonia college students purchased the forest with their own money to have a place to experience nature. As a result of their foresight, the forest became a prized learning laboratory for thousands of teachers, researchers, and students. The Faculty Student Association (FSA), a non-profit auxiliary of SUNY Fredonia, has owned the property and operated a historic lodge on the site since 1969.

 

The Land Conservancy purchased the forest surrounding the lodge in 2022 thanks to the dedication and generosity of nature lovers who recognized the importance of this forest. 

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Incredible natural diversity

The heart of the forest is anchored by a large grove of towering old-growth trees, hundreds of years old. This is extremely rare in Western New York.

 

The forest is part of a major flyway for migratory birds that come from as far south as the Amazon rainforest in the spring, and from as far north as the Arctic tundra in the fall. It also boasts a stunning diversity of reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals, and countless other species that have few such sanctuaries left in our region. These include beautiful orchids, carnivorous plants that eat insects, and bryozoans—sometimes referred to as freshwater coral—that live in the wetland.

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Do you want to learn more about the importance of the old-growth forest? You can watch our talk with Joan Maloof, founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network with the link below. 

The land was threatened

To help with the high cost of maintaining the property, the FSA proposed a plan to raise funds by logging the forest, including the old-growth trees.

 

Fortunately, the FSA decided to sell a large portion of the land to the Land Conservancy in order to protect the forest. The FSA will continue to own and operate the lodge and the 33 acres surrounding it, while the Land Conservancy owns 168 acres of the forest, the wetland, and the trails. The Land Conservancy maintains it as a publicly accessible nature preserve, with miles of year-round trails.

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