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History

Tifft Nature Preserve is a 264-acre nature refuge dedicated to conservation and environmental education. The Preserve was created in 1972 from land purchased by the City of Buffalo for a landfill site. Concerned citizens recognized the ecological importance of the site and convinced the city legislators to plan for the area’s preservation. The completed landfill incorporated many safety measures, allowing the land to have a new purpose, a nature preserve which opened in 1976. 

The land that comprises Tifft Nature Preserve has a fascinating history. It was once part of a huge dairy farm owned by George Washington Tifft and later became a transshipment center, primarily for coal and iron ore. During the 1950s and 1960s, Tifft’s land was a dumpsite for city refuse.

Tifft began its transformation to a nature preserve in the 1970s. Nearly two million cubic feet of solid municipal waste was enclosed in clay and covered with soil excavated from another section of the Preserve. Ponds were enlarged, and trees and wildflowers were planted. Conservation of Tifft’s large cattail marsh helped attract a variety of animals. 

In 1982, Tifft Farm Nature Preserve became a department of the Buffalo Museum of Science. Its name was later changed to Tifft Nature Preserve, to better reflect its purpose as a preserve rather than a farm. 

Today, Tifft Nature Preserve maintains a natural setting. Animals from the entire region take advantage of its ponds, marshes and woodlands. It has become the urban sanctuary many people envisioned more than 20 years ago. 

In addition to 264 acres of restored habitat with five miles of trails and boardwalks for visitors to enjoy, Tifft’s Herb and Jane Darling Education Center provides amenities including educational displays, restrooms and indoor programming and event space.

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Preserve Highlights:

  • Five miles of nature trails – trail map and rules available here and at the Herb & Jane Darling Environmental Education Center
  • Three boardwalks with viewing blinds in and adjacent to the cattail marsh
  • Parking lot and trails open year-round during daylight hours
  • Guided walks on Thursdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays, seasonally, at 2 p.m.  (suggested donation: $2.00)
  • Designated National Audubon Society “Important Bird Area” offers local birding hotspot
  • Fishing at Lake Kirsty only (except North Shoreline)
  • Snowshoe rentals
  • Cross-country skiing permitted
  • Opportunities to observe local wildlife in natural habitats