Land Trust Acquires Rare Stretch of Owasco Lake Shoreline

Photo by Bill Hecht

The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced recently that it has protected 1,100 feet of Owasco Lake shoreline through the acquisition of 74 acres in the town of Owasco, Cayuga County.  The Land Trust intends to manage the site as a public conservation area, and will restore wetlands to filter runoff to the lake. A hiking trail will traverse the site’s diverse wildlife habitats while also providing access to scenic views of Owasco Lake.  

The property features forested bluffs overlooking the lake as well as meadows, brush land, hay fields, and a rugged gorge.  The site was identified as a priority for protection through a systematic effort by the Land Trust to identify and assess properties within the Finger Lakes region that feature 1,000 feet or more of undeveloped shoreline.

The Land Trust purchased the property through individual donations, an interest free loan from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, and an allocation from the organization’s revolving land protection fund.  A $950,000 fundraising campaign is underway to cover the purchase price of the property, public access improvements, wildlife habitat restoration, and also to provide a contribution to the organization’s Stewardship Fund to support long-term management of the site.

The fundraising campaign already includes lead gifts from the Peter J. Emerson Foundation and the Gallogly Family Foundation.  Additionally, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation has indicated its intent to purchase a conservation easement to ensure public access to the site and its continued preservation.

“We’re grateful to our donors and partners for making this project possible,” said Andrew Zepp, the Land Trust’s Executive Director.  “Acquisition of this land will allow the public to experience one of Owasco Lake’s last stretches of wild shoreline.  It also allows us to restore wetlands that will help filter runoff to the lake, helping to address harmful algal blooms.”

This latest acquisition follows earlier acquisitions of shoreline by the Land Trust on Canandaigua, Cayuga, Otisco, Seneca, and Skaneateles lakes.  By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 21,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust owns and manages a network of 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 140 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 new web site developed by the Land Trust to encourage people to get outdoors.