Driving up Water Street in the Village of Candor last spring, I met up with Betsy Darlington, one of the founding members of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. We left our vehicles at the junction of Water Street and Logan Hill Road and headed up a dirt road to the new Logan Hill Nature Preserve. The 290 acres had recently been donated to the Land Trust by Betsy and her husband Richard. It is located in the Village and Town of Candor, south of Ithaca.
Our path started out not too bad, but got rougher and rougher as we hiked. A tough winter, and water running down, had carved grooves in the road but on both sides, yellow flowers were growing.
In 1963, Betsy and Richard moved to Ithaca from Minnesota, and made a lot of adjustments in their new, very different, environment. They’ve owned the property since 1972, and enjoyed it during camping breaks when the children were growing up – they’ve kept a small portion today as an escape place. Over the years, they took the time to put in ponds and vernal pools. I saw trees that they planted, as well as all the signs marking the preserve from the rest of the area.
“Candor is one of the most beautiful towns,” Betsy said, the big reason she and Richard bought the land. In 1990, they donated a conservation easement on a large part of the property.
Betsy has always been a naturalist. Walking the preserve with her that day was very educational as she can name every flower and tree, and each bird we heard singing. In addition to seeing and enjoying a wide variety of birds, I thought the views from up top of the valley below were amazing. Even though I was only a short distance from the village, it was very quiet and peaceful with only the sounds of nature.
Logan Hill Nature Preserve is a mix of forest and meadows with frontage on Catatonk Creek. It’s made up of ponds, streams, woodlands, meadow, wetlands and more, and is located entirely within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Finger Lakes Land Trust plans to develop a network of hiking trails there, along with a parking area and an interpretive kiosk. Plans also include working with the Town of Candor to develop a public canoe/kayak launch on the Catatonk Creek on the lower part of the preserve.
Betsy and I talked about the trust’s 36 preserves located all over this region, and how sometimes power lines and gas lines have been allowed to cross them. Still, the trust works hard to keep these areas as natural as possible. They hope that be including the land as part of the trust, it will be protected from eminent domain.
Land Trust staff and volunteers will be working together to inventory the property and develop a plan to manage its future use. They want to make the property accessible not only for hiking, but also for nature study, bird watching, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and more. The land trust will also allow deer hunting, but only with permits. “In the coming months there will be a naturalist guided field tour, as well as a meeting with members of the local community to hear their ideas for the Logan Hill Nature Preserve,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp.
What a peaceful and enjoyable afternoon I had with Betsy. I am planning on exploring the preserve even more when better weather comes to Candor.
story and photos by Anne O. Stout