Bluff Point Conservation Effort Spearheaded by Finger Lakes Land Trust

Bluff Point on Keuka Lake. Photo by Bill Hecht
 01/11/2024

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) recently announced it recently purchased two properties featuring 57 acres of hillside forest on the east side of Bluff Point, a well-known scenic area overlooking Keuka Lake. The properties were purchased as part of a new initiative by the FLLT to conserve lands on Bluff Point that are significant for their ecological value, water quality, and scenic beauty.

Both parcels contain mature forest featuring hardwoods and pine, as well as several rugged ravines created by tributaries to Keuka Lake. The parcels are not adjacent to one another but are in close proximity and both feature frontage on East Bluff Drive.

The FLLT intends to develop a hiking trail on one of the parcels that will be open to the public during daylight hours. The trail will be developed after a natural resource inventory and management plan for both properties has been completed.

The two purchases were made possible by an anonymous donation, proceeds from the FLLT’s Finger Lakes Forever capital campaign, and a loan from the organization’s internal revolving fund. The FLLT has thus far raised $374,000 toward its goal of raising $610,000 to cover the costs of the purchases, along with public access improvements, and a contribution to the organization’s stewardship fund to provide long-term care of the parcels.

With these two purchases, the FLLT has completed three land protection projects on Bluff Point including an earlier donation of a perpetual conservation easement. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that limits future development while allowing the land to remain in private ownership.

As the FLLT develops a publicly accessible nature trail, the organization will also reach out to additional landowners on Bluff Point to identify other sensitive land protection opportunities. Both conservation easements and acquisitions will be considered.

“Bluff Point’s wooded hillsides are vital to the health of Keuka Lake,” said FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “These forests stabilize steep slopes and reduce runoff to the lake. They also provide scenic vistas for which Keuka Lake is known. With development pressures in this area increasing dramatically, now is the time to act to ensure their future.”

To date, the FLLT has conserved more than 390 acres within the Keuka Lake watershed. In addition to its recent acquisitions on Bluff Point, the FLLT owns and manages the Botsford Nature Preserve at Big Gully in the town of Jerusalem and holds additional conservation easements on prime farmland near Penn Yan.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 31,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The FLLT owns and manages a network of over 45 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 187 properties that remain in private ownership.

The FLLT 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 residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.

Information on the region’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation may be found at www.gofingerlakes.org, a resource created by the FLLT to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at http://www.fllt.org.

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