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Ellery Property Donated To Foundation Of Sustainable Forests

ELLERY — A 113-acre woodland in Ellery has been donated to the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, a land trust based out of Northwest Pennsylvania.

The property was donated by Chautauqua residents Ted and Deborah First, who want to see the property protected as a healthy, working forest.

The conversation to conserve the First Forest began in 2017. The Firsts said in order to best steward the land they love, they needed a partner, and after nearly five years as owners, the Firsts decided to team up with the Foundation for Sustainable Forests.

“Conservation without a plan or engagement,” said Ted First, “is really moving backwards.”

Under the stewardship of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, the property, to be known as First Forest, will remain active in the local community, staying on the tax rolls and providing jobs through sustainable forest management.

“The Foundation for Sustainable Forests is thrilled and honored to be entrusted with the conservation and stewardship of First Forest,” said Annie Maloney, Foundation for Sustainable Forests executive director. “We look forward to hosting woods walks and other events there to raise awareness about the importance of thoughtful, careful management as a tool to enhance forest diversity, health and overall resilience.”

With a headwater stream meandering through the forest toward Cassadaga Creek, Ted First describes the land as a “rich, wonderful” area. He envisions First Forest as “thriving” in 100 years, with a century of thoughtful management and the foundation’s “worst-first” approach to tree selection and stand improvements.

Now retired and spending all seasons in Chautauqua with children and grandchildren, the Firsts will retain about seven acres of the 113-acre parcel, through which they will have access to a meadow and cabin for continued use. Their donation is not the first they’ve made to a land trust or conservation organization. They previously donated 30 acres of wooded Chautauqua County property to the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.

The Foundation for Sustainable Forests plans to host an educational woods walk for area foresters and forest landowners in the spring.

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