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Floating Fen

You did it! Thanks to you, the Friends of Floating Fen, everyone who donated, and the entire Western New York community, we've met our fundraising goal to save the Floating Fen in Chautauqua County!


We were able to purchase this spectacular 225-acre forest. This year, we will begin creating a walking trail that we'll keep open year-round as a publicly accessible nature preserve. Our ownership of this magnificent property ensures it will be protected in perpetuity, with the forest and wetland providing homes to plants and animals into the future.

A Floating Fen

In the 1870s, the wetland here was known as “Randall’s Fly”—an anglicization of the Dutch word for marsh, “vlei”—and it was lush with unique peatland plants, many of which are now very hard to find in our region. When you walk the land today, you will notice a bog-like area known as the floating fen. Fens are richer in nutrients than bogs because they are fed by groundwater and rain. This particular fen is a floating mat of peat moss. The crown jewel of this special place, the floating fen reaches an astonishing eight acres in size and is home to an array of native plants. These include beautiful sundews—carnivorous plants that sparkle in the sunlight—awe-inspiring colonies of blue flag iris, highbush blueberry, and mountain holly. Small blackgum trees dot the fen, and beautiful orchids are scattered throughout the forest. The land sits on the crest of an escarpment. On one side of the land, water drains towards Lake Erie, goes over Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario, then through the St. Lawrence, while on the other side, it flows through the Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers into the Gulf of Mexico.


A Remarkable Place

Though the land has changed during the past 150 years, it remains a truly remarkable place teeming with wildlife. Its diverse habitats make it an ideal home to black bears, wood ducks, red-shouldered hawks, porcupines, fishers, and beavers—including one exceptionally large beaver dam. Once the Floating Fen is protected, it will combine with the College Lodge Forest to form nearly 400 acres of connected forest in Chautauqua County, making it a significant addition to the Western New York Wildway.


Explore the Floating Fen

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