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Reinstein Woods


Cheektowaga, New York

PHOTO

Reinstein Woods
Cheektowaga, New York

Reinstein Woods is one of the easiest places in the Northeast to experience the feeling of “stepping back into the past.”

Majestic American beech, black cherry, northern red oak and yellow birch—80 acres of them—stand like monuments along the trails. They reach 40 inches in diameter, and 150 to 250 years in age. One 40-inch beech, 235 years old and 103 feet tall, is one of the state’s largest forest-grown beeches. Impressive black cherries indicate the forest was not logged since the late 1800s; their wood commands high prices, and is normally the first species cut. In 1990, one five-foot diameter cherry died of old age at probably 275 years old.
Aerial Photo
Reinstein Woods
Cheektowaga, NY
click photo to enlarge

PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

Reinstein Woods resulted from the generosity of Dr. Victor Reinstein, who purchased it as his estate, and deeded it to New York State, which established the 289-acre State Nature Preserve. The preserve is outstanding also for its scenic lily-padded ponds and abundant wildlife viewing, only 1.5 miles from the Buffalo city line. The preserve has 65 acres of old growth, with 15 acres on the adjoining Stiglmeier Town Park.

There are two reasons why one can so easily “step back into the past” here. There are 500 historic carvings (tree graffiti) in the bark of the venerable beeches. The trail takes you near trees showing dates and names going back through most decades to 1887. Even older carvings, the initials of the town’s first white settler, Alexander Hitchcock, date back to the mid-1800s. Even older appearing carvings of wings and a claw could be Seneca clan markings when an Indian Reservation occupied this site prior to 1840.
Topographic Map
Reinstein Woods
Cheektowaga, NY
click photo to enlarge

PHOTO www.nysgis.state.ny.us

The second reason is that the Holland Land Survey, the region’s first land survey effort, traversed this forest in 1798. In their records, they described the forest much as it appears today. Their surveyor monuments still stand at these survey points deep in the forest. Standing still under the rustling leaves and twitter of birds, one can easily imagine the spirits of the Senecas and the Dutch surveyors from more than 200 years ago (at least until the nearby airport noise breaks the peace).

Reinstein Woods is a prime example of urban old growth, with all of its problems. It is surrounded by the semi-industrial suburb of Cheektowaga. Up to 80 deer use it as their refuge (together with the adjoining town park). Their excessive population, four times the normal healthy levels, has resulted in severe overbrowsing. The forest floor is nearly barren except for inedible ferns. Few tree seedlings survive to replace the trees that gradually die. The once-abundant carpets of trillium and other wildflowers are all gone. The long-term outlook is in question. Yet the state and the local community have chosen to do nothing to save this forest’s future.
Directions to
ReinsteinWoods

from NYS Thruway (I-90) near Buffalo
  • Take Exit 52-Walden Avenue East
  • Take Walden Av. east to Union Road (Rt. 277 south)
  • Turn right on Union Road; go 1.1 miles
  • Turn left on Como Park Blvd.; go 1.8 miles
  • Turn right on Honorine Drive at wooden Reinstein sign
  • A naturalist will lead your guided tour at the scheduled time
  • Reinstein Woods was the first old-growth site to be documented when area naturalists started their survey of the region’s old growth in the mid-1980s. At that time, only one other ancient forest, in Allegany State Park, was confirmed. The Western New York Old Growth Forest Survey has now documented more than 60 separate ancient sites in Western NY. The Reinstein Woods therefore is the first ancient forest to commence the formal search for Old Growth that ultimately inspired the creation of the New York Old Growth Forest Association, the first formal state-wide search for ancient forests.

    Reinstein Woods is open for public guided tours on most Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Unguided access is not permitted. Call 716-683-5959 for information and exact times.


    New York Old Growth Forest Associationwww.championtrees.org/NYOGFA/updated: 11/06/2002