moose walking through the property
April Percy Stillwaterer

“We want to leave a peaceful place for generations to come”

Local families taking action

Julia Rubenstein’s dad, Stan Wiater, loved wildlife. Growing up in the 1940’s, he learned about hard work and respecting nature during the long days at camp in the town of Forestport, Oneida County.

As a young boy, Stan learned much from his mentor, Larry Frey, who had purchased their original 100 acres through the government veteran’s program when he returned from WWII.

Larry took Stan under his wing, and on weekends they would drive up from Utica together to visit the camp in Forestport. Stan learned the arts of forestry, trapping, hunting, and taxidermy, which he then shared with his younger brother Ed.

When Stan returned from the Army, and became a skilled mason, Larry and Stan purchased abutting land. Over the next 20 years they planted thousands of trees and built a spillway on Gulf Creek to create a pond for fishing and wildlife.

protecting the land he loves
“I come up here as much as I can and find that time in the woods renews me.” – Ed Sajdzikowski

Ed (Julie’s uncle), still owns and enjoys the abutting parcel of land Larry and Stan gave him as a wedding gift in 1974. “I come up here as much as I can and find that time in the woods renews me,” explains Ed, who, until Stan’s passing in 2019, had seldom missed a weekend on the property since 1957.

A tribute to family and nature

Julie and her husband Jeff, are now conserving this land as a tribute to the men in her life who toiled to care for it, learned from it, and loved it. “My dad would be so pleased that we have protected this place that he loved so much, and was such a large part of the wonderful, generous, strong man he became.”

The Rubenstein’s will continue to own the property, pay property taxes, and manage it subject to the long-term conservation agreement.

Both critical and timely

This region is a central part of the Wildlife Connectivity project area; a partnership between local, state and national conservation groups to create a conservation corridor extending from the southern Appalachians up into Canada.

At stake are numerous wildlife like moose and black bear who find the changing climate necessitates increased movement for food, cover, and raising their young.

For the Rubenstein’s, conserving their land is important to protect significant habitat—and share the healing powers of nature. “We want to pass this love of nature on to others, too,” said Julie. “We hope to partner with area nonprofits to provide a place for young people from disadvantaged situations to find themselves, like my dad and I did, to find inner peace, and hopefully find a lifelong love of nature.”