The Town of Clarence recently purchased a 27-acre property located in the Harris Hill area, and will turn it into a publicly accessible nature preserve called the Nuchereno Preserve. This property contains one of the last remnants of one of the rarest natural communities in New York State, an oak savannah. In fact, the property is one of only four oak savannahs in the entire state. The Land Conservancy identified this property as a priority for protection many years ago and strongly advocated for its preservation. We have visited the property numerous times – twice with members of the Niagara Frontier Botanical Society who helped us understand the unique attributes of the land. This is yet another major accomplishment made possible by the Clarence ‘Greenprint’ program.
Oak savannahs, also called oak openings, are found where dry soil limits the growth of many trees except for a scattering of a few thriving oak trees. The scarcity of trees means lots of sunlight for the grasses and flowers that grow well on the same dry soil. The diversity of plants in oak openings support abundant wildlife. The warm season grasses and flowers support many kinds of pollinators including the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Turkeys love to bring their young to oak openings where they can gorge on the insects and acorns.
Acquiring this property will help preserve what’s left of this special piece of New York State’s natural heritage. With some habitat enhancement and improved access, Western New Yorkers will be able to experience the beauty of an uncommon natural community.