The Bentley Sanctuary, a wildlife preserve known for its ephemeral spring wildflowers and winding trails, has been transferred to the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy from the Audubon Community Nature Center.
Even before the transfer was complete, work was begun by conservancy volunteers and Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant employees to improve existing trails and build new board walks for the newly designated Pamela A. Westrom Wildflower Trail.
The Bentley Sanctuary is in the Jamestown area, located at the end of Bentley Road, off Fluvanna Road (State Route 430) to the right (if heading north), near the Fluvanna Community Church in Greenhurst.
The sanctuary was the first property acquired by Jamestown Audubon Society when 40 acres were donated by Gustavus Bentley in December 1960.
It was a favorite birding site for the famous naturalist and Jamestown native Roger Tory Peterson. In 1933 Peterson mapped 50 species of nesting birds on the property.
Bentley also surveyed the site between 1960 and 1965 and published a booklet listing the plant species he found.
Audubon Community Nature Center has continued to hold annual Mother’s Day Wildflower Walks at Bentley, but for many years it has been underutilized beyond this one event.
In 2015 Audubon approached Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy to learn if the organization would be interested in the property, since it adjoined other conservancy preserves and more closely aligns with its mission and strategic direction.
Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local land conservation, watershed education and pollution prevention organization. Its mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. It has worked with landowners to voluntarily conserve more than 1,000 acres of land across the county.
The property was transferred earlier this month, thanks to the support of a generous donor who underwrote the expenses.
By agreement, Audubon Community Nature Center will continue to hold its Mother’s Day Wildflower Walks at the Preserve.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways.