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LEWISTON – The plan to turn 29 acres of land owned by the Sisters of St. Francis at Stella Niagara into a nature preserve along the banks of the Niagara River took a step forward this week.

The Niagara River Greenway’s Ecological Standing Committee has approved a $500,000 funding request from the Western New York Land Conservancy, which plans to buy the land from the order of Catholic nuns. The property has been appraised at $2.25 million.

With 1,474 feet of shoreline, the land along Lower River Road is the third-longest piece of privately owned riverfront in Niagara County.

It’s the first riverside property acquisition in the Greenway, whose funding source is the New York Power Authority. The grant is also the largest single amount ever awarded to the Conservancy, and it’s the first funding for what is projected to be a $3.17 million plan of boat access, habitat preservation and hiking trails.