The Finger Lakes Land Trust recently announced it has acquired 80 wooded acres off Eastman Hill Road, just south of Ithaca in the town of Danby, Tompkins County. The property borders Danby State Forest and is also adjacent to private property protected by a Land Trust conservation easement and two parcels of land previously acquired by the organization. Taken together, the Land Trust has protected 500 acres in this area.
The new acquisition is located within a habitat linkage zone identified by New York State and includes headwater wetlands and seasonal streams that drain to Catatonk Creek, a classified trout stream and tributary of the Susquehanna River.
The property will be transferred to New York State as an addition to Danby State Forest (DSF) when funds become available. In 2018, the Land Trust worked with the state to add 144 acres, including approximately one mile of the Finger Lakes Trail, to the state forest, and will soon transfer an additional 50-acre parcel in this area.
“Acquisition of this land adds to publicly accessible open space at a time when more and more people are getting out to visit our parks and conservation areas,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We are right now seeing high level of public use of these lands across the entire Finger Lakes region.”
Protection of this parcel will also safeguard additional wildlife habitat within the Emerald Necklace, an ambitious effort to link 50,000 acres of existing public open space that extends in an arc around Ithaca – from Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests in the east. These lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas, and several dozen Tompkins County-designated Unique Natural Areas. The Emerald Necklace is also recognized as a priority project within New York State’s Open Space Plan.
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 24,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The Land Trust owns and manages a network of 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 147 properties that remain in private ownership.
The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife, conserving lands that are important for water quality, connecting existing conservation lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and local residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.
Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at www.fllt.org. Information on the region’s premiere destinations for outdoor recreation, including Danby State Forest, may be found at www.gofingerlakes.org, a resource created by the Land Trust to encourage people to get outdoors.