Conservation Commission Receives Special Award

The Grand Island Commission for Conservation of the Environment is one of only a handful in New York State to receive a special award from the NYS Association of Conservation Commissions. The 2000 Special Projects Award, announced November 3, is in recognition of the commission's work in protecting and preserving the Gun Creek ecosystem. The project was deemed to be the best in the state due to its magnitude according to Commission Advisor and Grand Island Council Member Mary Cooke.

The NYS Association recognized the commission for eight years and "840 hours" of work identifying the island's six major ecosystems and protecting the Gun Creek system (deemed to be the most important) with a series of purchases, culminating with the town's "Scenic Woods" purchase of 206 acres on Ransom Rd. near the Grand Island High School.

The commission's Chairman Sam Akinbami sought the award in recognition "of the work involved with this project ...done by volunteers without any compensation except for town officials in the normal course of their duties."

Funding for the 206 acre purchase came from Trust & Agency Fees (from the Town of Grand Island), Fujisawa and Bonny Oaks Wetlands Mitigation Funds (from the US Army Corps of Engineers), and the Recreation /Open Space Capital Reserve Fund. All of these funds were established from developers. None of the money came from the town's General Fund (direct taxes). Recently, the project was awarded a $50,000 grant from the North American Waterfowl and Wetlands Project. The commission has applied for another grant worth up to $150,000 to fund a series of trails in the preserve. If approved, the grant money would reimburse the town's Trust & Agency and Recreation/Open Space funds.

The prestigious award, in special recognition of the commission's hard work, will greatly improve the town's chances for more funding according to Akinbami.

Akinbami asks readers, on behalf of the commission, for suggestions on how they would like to use the land while preserving the ecosystem.

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