Wilderness Preserve

After the passing of Mr. John Long, the NRAA purchased this property from his estate on Jan. 16, 2009. This is our Wilderness Preserve and Walleye Rearing Ponds. This 61-acre property is for the exclusive use of members of the Niagara River Anglers Association and can be used for fishing, camping, hiking, picnics, etc. There is a $10.00 fee per year, for a key to the Preserve, in addition to your membership. Above is an aerial view of the Wilderness Preserve.

Questions / Information on Preserve Use

Please contact Charlie Porter, Grounds Chairman: 417-2786. Only members and guests of the Niagara River Anglers Assoc. are permitted on the premises and if asked, must show their membership card, key and another form of identification to anyone requesting it.

WILDERNESS PRESERVE KEYS are from APRIL 1, to OCTOBER 31 each year (weather permitting). Hours of use are from sun-up to sun-set unless you are camping. No special events allowed unless Grounds Chairman is notified and is approved.*Key holder is responsible for yourself, your children, your family and your guests. ALL FISHING IS CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY, AND ONLY IN ‘LONG LAKE’.Injured fish must still be released. No keeping of any fish caught for any reason.CONSIDER THE PRESERVE A MEMBER PRIVILEGE — NOT A RIGHT.

Any suggestions for the betterment of our Preserve will be considered. The preserve will be used for its intended purpose while remaining “primitive” for the betterment of wildlife. Protect it as if your own. Don’t forget to check out our web site at: www.niagarariveranglers.com All NRAA members must serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the organization. Please help us keep this preserve a good experience for everyone entering its gate. Help by reporting ALL violators to any NRAA OFFICER, Grounds Chairman, or e-mail us at: nraa@niagarariveranglers.com (2009)

Wilderness preserve is created . . . .

A special “Exploratory” meeting on the expansion of uses at the NRAA’s walleye pond site was held on February 13, 1995. There was a discussion and explanation on the thoughts surrounding expanding the use of the site. It was with the hope of further developing the site for recreational uses which were fishing, camping, boating, picnicking, hiking and nature trails. Maybe horseshoe pits and a volleyball area would be nice.

It was explained that it could become a place of pride along with a location for more community recreational uses and youth development through organized programs.

As always, several members stepped forward and volunteered to be “chairman” of a few sub committees. They were:

  • Tom Migliazzo, Fishing Committee
  • Ron Hutcheson, Picnic committee
  • Sam Barone, Camping
  • Don Bronson, Hiking
  • Dan Mocniak, Nature Trail
  • Jerry Farrell, Conservationist
  • Dave St. Onge, Youth Group

The idea had been born and like everything the NRAA decides to do, would grow faster than anyone could imagine.

There would be lots of other issue that would arise and need addressing. Such items as a sanitary facilities with a holding tank. And yes, it would need pumping from time to time. A pavilion / shelter of some sort for use by picnickers. And most importantly, a good set of rules for all to abide by.

How was the name conceived . . . .

Finding a name for something like this was no easy task. What should it be called? Well help was just around the corner. Outdoor writer Joe Ognibene did an article about it. In his article he called it a “Wilderness Project”. This sounded pretty good and the word “Preserve was added to it. So history again was written and we now had the NRAA “Wilderness Preserve”.

Recognizing that children are like sponges, absorbing everything they come in contact with, why not make this a place for them to learn first hand about wildlife and conservation.

Projects began to take shape and move forward. The pavilion was to be built and the community stepped up. Fox Fence sent a crew in and dug the holes for the pavilion posts. Poles were set and Ron Hutcheson and Ted Wygonih came up with materials to build the trusses. They were built in Ron’s driveway. Dave Young Trucking loaned us equipment to move them to the site.

Roofing material came from Dan Thompson Roofing. Then came something needed for the gable ends. Pete Radowsky at Central Siding got us vinyl siding. Larry Balch and Bobby Lucas acquired and donated material for the roof.

Next came an outhouse. We have no running water, no electric, but needed some place to make “deposits”. A 750 gallon water tank was acquired and Eddie Kneeppel of ECK Trucking in Ransomville was there to dig the hole, install the tank, level and backfill the area. Plus he donated a truckload of stone. All this was done under the watchful eye of member George Kopera. (later becoming our grounds keeper)

just a little more . . . .

Now you can’t very well have a picnic area without tables. We acquired six tables from an anonymous donor. And two from the back yard of Ted Shipston.

There again the NRAA members and community stepped forward. Each and every time something was needed, it came with open arms from great people. Just think of all the small yet important items that were needed. Things like gasoline for generators to power the tools. Then there were nails, bolts, paint, miscellaneous tools like saw blades, lunches for the volunteers, pieces of lumber to complete a job. Well you get the idea.

Although about 70% of the materials for the pavilion were donated, we bought the other 30% from cash donations. What a great organization and community we have.

The summer of 1996 saw the completion of one of the hiking trails. This was done by boys from Scout Troop 841 as suggested by Tom Barber. Ross Trainor, a troop member working for his Eagle rank assembled a few other scouts. During the time the trail was being completed, Tom Barber passed away suddenly. Ross suggested the trail be dedicated to Tom. Then NRAA did this. It was called the Tom Barber Trail. The trail goes from the pavilion around the lake on the south side heading east and cuts in through the woods and then connects to the old logging road heading back west to the pond area. Since these early days a lot has been done at the Preserve. Another small pavilion was erected. Following the outhouse being burned down by vandals, a new one was erected. Long Lake saw its shore line cleaned for easier fishing by kids and lots of cat tails were cut down. Then we installed 6 park style grills for our members use. It is still a great place to go for only $10.00 a season.

History of the walleye rearing project . . . .

In late 1984, the NRAA received a generous offer from one of it’s members. John Long Sr. stepped forward and was willing to donate some land to be used by the club to raise Walleyes for stocking in the Niagara River.

Norm Magrich was appointed to chair this committee. Its main function was to investigate the feasibility of building a walleye rearing facility on John’s property in the Town of Lewiston.

In April 1985, Norm Magrich, Mike Tucker, Mike Behunin and John Long Sr. met with people from the Wyoming County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs to see first hand their walleye rearing facilities around Silver Lake. Inspired by the trip, our representatives quickly went to work.

Permits would be needed, DEC requirements to be met, since part of the land was declared a wetland. Member Bill Broderick agreed to provide us with some much needed legal advice.

During July serious negotiations with Sevenson Construction Company began and plans for construction were finalized.

By late August all the permits were in order and a ground breaking ceremony was held at the entrance to the property on Balmer Road. This was September 9, 1985.

Sevenson Company agreed to construct ten ½ acre ponds, a gravel roadway into the location, a 9 X 12 ft storage building and begin work on a large supply pond in return for the right to remove the excavated clay.

walleye rearing history is made . . . .

Construction began in October 1985 with massive amounts of equipment. Unfortunately the rainiest November in history halted construction after only eight (8) ponds were excavated.

A bank account of $500 was set up to help get things going. When you back on this massive undertaking, keep in mind what the NRAA was able to do by shear determination, dedication and perseverance.

At that time all the accomplishments relating to the project had been donated by the public and private sector, including;

  • Acres of landed need for the project site
  • Site clearing
  • Pond excavation and construction
  • Site remedial work
  • Support facilities construction
  • Source of walleye fry

Now comes May 1986 and the first walleye fry are placed into the ponds. There was a lot of prep work to get them ready, but the hard working volunteers got it done.

On June 21st and 22nd an open house was held at the pond site. All members and the community were invited to come and see just what the NRAA had done in such a short period of time and what the plan entailed for the future.

A gate was put up at the road entrance leading to the site. This was done in the hopes of keeping vandalism in control and for liability problems.

History is made on the banks of Niagara . . . .

On Thursday, June 26th 1986, history was made on the banks of the lower Niagara River at Joseph Davis State Park. The FIRST ever stocking of walleye fingerlings (1 ½ – 3”) was made by members of the NRAA. By Sunday June 28th , 20,000 walleye fingerlings had been released into the waters of the Niagara River.

Those volunteers showed a lot of perseverance during those few days. It seem that Murphy’s Law would apply at each step they took in what proved to be a very labor intensive project.

Pumping the ponds down to where they were wade able. Dragging the nets across the ponds and working in muddy conditions. Dipping the fry from the nets into buckets. Then caring them to a tank on a truck and duping them in. Driving to the dock, hooking the piping system and letting the fry flow into the river.

There were so many people to thank during these early days that at this time in history, it would not do justice to even try. They know who they are and what they were able to accomplish.

Over the past 21 years hundreds of thousands of walleye have been released into the lower Niagara River. All done by the NRAA and its volunteers. There are still plans to continue this effort in the future years ahead of us.

So when you read of a good days catch of walleye by someone, or hopefully you experience it your self, just remember that it may be one we stocked, or an off spring of one we planted into the mighty Niagara.