The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) recently announced it is under contract to purchase a 470-acre property with 3,400 feet of pristine Cayuga Lake shoreline from New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG). The property, known as Bell Station, is the largest privately owned parcel of shoreline remaining in the Finger Lakes.
Located on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, the Bell Station property was originally acquired by NYSEG for a nuclear power plant that was never built. Bell Station features wooded hillsides overlooking the lake, extensive fields, and several small streams with cascading waterfalls. The property is recognized as a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Plan.
Acquisition of the site for conservation will greatly enhance public access to the east side of Cayuga Lake, which is 90% privately owned. Permanent conservation will also prevent residential development on the steep hillsides bordering the lake, helping to safeguard the lake’s water quality and prevent future harmful algal blooms.
For all these reasons, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has been pursuing the conservation of the Bell Station property for a number of years. Its interest is shared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Governor Kathy Hochul, and the DEC designated the FLLT as its agent to pursue acquisition of the land. The project almost unraveled earlier this year when NYSEG proposed an online auction to sell Bell Station to the highest bidder, emphasizing the potential for shoreline development. The auction was to take place in October. Thanks to the efforts of Governor Hochul, public pressure, and other support, NYSEG willingly agreed to cancel the auction and enter into a purchase agreement with the FLLT.
Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp said, “We are particularly grateful to Governor Hochul and the strong leadership of DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, Senator Pamela Helming, and Assemblymember Anna Kelles for pulling together a coalition of support to make this agreement happen. This is a tremendous win for the Finger Lakes and all residents of New York State.”
The FLLT is now under contract to purchase the Bell Station property and is working together with the DEC, the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County, and other key stakeholders to acquire the land and create a public conservation area on the lakeshore portion of the property. The conservation area will be transferred to the state and managed by the DEC as a wildlife management area open for recreational uses including hiking, cross country skiing, wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing. The organization is also planning to utilize the easternmost portion of the property for solar energy production in partnership with the Town of Lansing.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust needs to quickly raise $500,000 to complete the purchase and is seeking broad support from the community. The project is additionally supported by a generous low-interest loan from the Park Foundation.
Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp said, “The FLLT wishes to thank the Park Foundation for its tremendous support, without which this project would not be possible. We are today launching a public campaign to raise additional funding from the Finger Lakes community and very much look forward to completing the purchase with their help.”
President of the Park Foundation Adelaide Park Gomer said, “We are proud to support the preservation of this critical shoreline and help safeguard habitat, ecosystems, water quality, and public access to the beauty of Cayuga Lake and its surrounding wildlife. This is the type of collaboration with trusted leadership from Finger Lakes Land Trust, NYSEG, and New York State that is a win on multiple levels for the community. It also advances our commitment to clean water, clean energy, species protection, and conservation.”
To learn more about the FLLT’s efforts to save Bell Station and how the community can help, please visit: https://www.fllt.org/savebellstation.
To see Governor Hochul’s full press release, please visit:
About the FLLT
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 28,000 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 168 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.