View of recent acquisition and Harris Hill.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust recently announced it has purchased approximately 211 acres in the town of Big Flats from the Smith family. Situated in the Chemung River Valley between Elmira and Corning, the property will be conveyed to New York State as an addition to the newly created Big Flats Wildlife Management Area in the future.

The property features scenic fields near the Chemung River as well as steep wooded slopes on Harris Hill. The land was once part of a diverse local farm operation with orchards and free range chickens. More recently, the fields have been cultivated for soybeans and corn.

The property supports a diversity of wildlife including bald eagles and black bears, with the Palisades creating a dramatic backdrop. In June, the Land Trust acquired 104 acres along the Palisades, protecting more than 4,000 feet of Chemung River streambank. This property will also be transferred to the state when funds become available.

“Protection of this property is important for current and future generations so that they can enjoy the beauty of our area,” said Ed Fairbrother, Town of Big Flats Supervisor. “The Finger Lakes Land Trust is a very vital partner for conservation in our town.”

This is the Land Trust’s seventeenth conservation project in the Chemung River watershed. Elsewhere in the watershed, the Land Trust owns and manages several nature preserves and also holds perpetual conservation easements on land that remains in private ownership. Addition of these latest acquisitions to the wildlife management area will create new opportunities for outdoor recreation and add to a growing network of conservation lands along the Chemung River.


Map includes recent acquisitions of Smith property and Palisades.


“This latest acquisition will be a terrific addition to our public lands,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “Whether you are a hunter, bird watcher, or simply someone who likes being outdoors, this property has a lot to offer.”

The project was funded with support from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, an anonymous donor, and the Land Trust’s Opportunity Fund— a revolving internal account dedicated to making time-sensitive acquisitions possible.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 23,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust owns and manages a network of over 30 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 138 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  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.


Photo caption: View of recent acquisition and Harris Hill.

Map includes recent acquisitions of Smith property and Palisades.


Edie Jodz

Assistant Director of Development

Finger Lakes Land Trust

202 East Court Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

(607) 275-9487 |

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