Memory of Artist and Environmentalist Lives On Through Caledonia Wetlands Preserve

CALEDONIA, N.Y. -- With the addition of a boardwalk, kiosk, and trails, 25 acres of protected wetlands in Livingston County will soon officially be dedicated as the Christine Sevilla Wetlands Preserve.

Sevilla was an artist and environmentalist who cared very much about keeping wetlands protected.

"She was a wonderful photographer. She loved animals, her dogs," said Gay Mills, executive director of the Genesee Land Trust. "In the years we got to know her, she was dedicated to protecting wetlands, to educating the community about how wetlands are important and significant in our lives."

Sevilla was murdered by her husband, Timothy Wells, in Perinton in 2009. The college professor pleaded guilty in 2010 and was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

After her death, a group of Christine's friends reached out to the Genesee Land Trust and asked if there were wetlands somewhere where they could honor her memory. The trust chose the Caledonia Wetlands Preserve, which was in 2010 named after Christine. Now that the trails and boardwalk are complete, an official dedication is set for Oct. 18.

"You never think this is going to happen to someone that you know, but it does happen," said Mills. "We were very happy to be part of the effort to memorialize this and to remember her and today to celebrate what she had given to all of us as part of her efforts to protect land, to protect wetlands, to share that information with everyone."

The land was donated to the trust in the early 1990s by the Rueger family. In the 1950s, it was a muck farm which, over the years, returned to healthy wetland habitat.

Christine's family donated money from her estate to the Genesee Land Trust, and proceeds from some of her artwork help fund the work going on here; in all, about $180,000 to maintain and protect this land. Under the trust's care, it should remain this way forever.

"I hope to will be pretty much the way it is, which is something land trusts do for communities," Mills said. "They try to protect certain places for everyone to enjoy over time, into the future, forever so that you and your children and your children's children have a chance to come to a place like this."

The Christine Sevilla Wetlands Preserve is open to the public.

• Take 383 south (Scottsville Road). Stay on this road through Scottsville.
• Turn left (south) onto Wheatland Center Road (route 174).
• Turn left (east) into Iroquois Road.
• Parking will be along the road, near the Preserve (~3748 Iroquois Road).
• After parking, please look for volunteers guiding you back to the property via the driveway of 3728 Iroquois Road.

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