The Land Trust’s Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook was the first projected ever initiated by the organization. Photo by Chris Ray

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) recently announced it has reached a major milestone on its mission to protect land and water across the region. With the recent completion of a 324-acre farmland protection project in Tompkins County, the organization has surpassed 25,000 acres conserved forever.

Since its beginnings as an all-volunteer organization in 1989, FLLT has grown into an accredited conservation organization, whose first effort was to protect Lick Brook Gorge in Ithaca. Today, the Sweedler and Thayer Preserves at Lick Brook are among its most popular conservation areas. FLLT has created over 35 nature preserves across the region, all free and open to the public year-round for quiet recreation. In 2020, these places have become even more significant as people seek solace outdoors. See a map at

The organization has also worked with private landowners to complete more than 150 conservation easements, voluntary legal agreements that limit future land use in order to protect the land’s conservation values. Lands subject to conservation easements remain in private ownership, on local tax rolls, and available for traditional uses such as farming and hunting.

Much has changed since the organization’s founding, but the Finger Lakes Land Trust remains committed to its mission. “The soul of the organization is the same,” said Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “It remains a pragmatic, grassroots group focused on conservation.” 

In addition to reaching the 25,000-acre mark, FLLT has also opened 46 miles of trails and protected over 3 miles of lakeshores. Many of its conservation areas are maintained with the help of over 200 volunteers and supported by more than 2,700 members. To learn more about the organization’s achievements over the past 31 years,

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.

Information on the region’s premiere destinations for outdoor recreation may be found at, a resource created by the Land Trust to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at

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