if yer not forest,
yer aginst us
Bruce Kershner
Ancient Forest Activist
Vanishing Forests
Zoar Valley
Gowanda, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 9/21/01

Zoar Valley
New York State Multiple Use Area
Gowanda, New York

Surveys: Sept. 22, 2001, June 8, 2003, June 28-9, 2003,
July 25, 2003, Aug. 22, 2003
Publicity: July 7, 2003, Sept. 24, 2001, Sept. 24, 2001

"One of Western New York's
Last Great Places

Zoar Valley is New York's second deepest gorge—an ancient channel carved by Cattaraugus Creek, which flows east-to-west into Lake Erie. At 400 to 450 feet deep, only Letchworth along the Genesee River is deeper. The lower end of Cattaraugus Creek, west of Gowanda to Lake Erie, is the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nation. But upstream, east of Gowanda, the valley becomes steep sided—nearly vertical in sections—deeply wooded and wild.

Zoar Valley is due south of Buffalo, running east to west along the border between Erie and Cattaraugus Counties. The valley is accessible only from a few points along the rim, and it's remoteness has protected it from logging, road building and other human disturbances. In the valley bottom, sheltered from high winds and extreme storms, on the floodplain along the creek, with thick alluvial soils and abundant moisture, have nursed the growth of a spectacular forest of some of the tallest trees in the Northeast.
Zoar Valley
Gowanda, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 9/21/01

Most of the land in and close by the gorge is owned by the State of New York, and is managed by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) as a "Multiple Use Area"—a broad land use designation that ranges fromrecreation to logging. Significant land in the gorge and forests around the state lands are privately owned, in an irregular patchwork of properties.

Zoar Valley's "Multiple Use" designation has sparked a series of confrontations between the NYSDEC and citizen activists who have opposed every NYSDEC plan announced to harvest timber in the gorge. Because NYS has no legal definitions to recognize and protect such unique forest resources, the Zoar forest remains at risk, with an uncertain and threatened future.

Dr. Tom Diggins at Ohio State University has persisted in his study of Zoar Valley, and continues to log more discoversies. Most recently Tom was elated to report high probability the valley now is home to a bald eagle family.

The last weekend of June 2003, NYOGFA sponsored a two day "Tally in the Valley" led by old growth guru Robert Leverett. This two day survey attracted over 150 participants, including tree measuring experts from the Eastern Native Tree Society (ENTS), several newspapers and a video crew.
Crossing the Creek
Zoar Valley
Gowanda, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 9/21/01

Sunday, September 21, 2001
Western Survey Team
Team Leader: Bruce Kershner
Assistant: Bob Leverett
Others: Fred Breglia, Jerry Horowitz,
Nick Vacsek, David Yarrow

In 2001, Zoar Valley activist Bruce Kershner invited Eastern old growth authority Robert Leverett to visit western NY and see for himself a few of the region's many spectacular forests, including Zoar Valley. On Sunday, September 21, Bruce Kershner led Bob Leverett and another two dozen adventurers into Zoar Valley to inspect and gather data on the Gallery of Giants and a few other feature area in the gorge. The event sparked two newspaper stories:

Amazed by tall trees
Buffalo News

Zoar Valley is gorge-ous
example of tallest trees

Olean Times Herald

TERRA: The Earth Restoration and Reforestation Alliancewww.ancientforests.usupdated 2/2/2009