Photo by Matt Champlin

The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced it has purchased 75 acres of woodlands in Cortland and Onondaga counties, just west of State Route 41. This acquisition links the organization’s High Vista and Hinchcliff Family preserves, creating a 2.25 mile-long corridor of conservation land overlooking the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake.

The property is located in an area of steeply sloping hillsides that are vital to the health of Skaneateles Lake, the source of drinking water for the city of Syracuse. Extensive forest and rugged ravines define the landscape which is designated as an Important Bird Area; Bald Eagles make their home here as do a number of different warbler species.

“This property was a top priority for protection because of its value for watershed protection,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “It is also a key link in a greenbelt that will ultimately extend around the southern half of Skaneateles Lake.”

The Land Trust will now complete a natural resource inventory of the property and will develop a management plan to guide future public access, including a hiking trail linking the three preserves. It is hoped that this trail system will one day be extended south and west to link with trails in Bear Swamp State Forest.


The south end of Skaneateles Lake is a conservation priority for the organization due to its steep forested hillsides and wetlands that harbor rare flora and a remarkable diversity of birds. Creating a greenbelt of conserved lands around the lake’s south end will add to protection of the lake’s water quality and also build upon recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

“The steep, forested hills at the south end of Skaneateles Lake are a special place to me,” said Dave Birchenough, President of the FLLT Board of Directors and Skaneateles resident. “Preserving an area so important to lake ecology while expanding the public hiking trail network is our legacy for the next generations.”

The Land Trust is actively fundraising to cover acquisition costs, construct the new hiking trail, and provide for long-term stewardship of this land. To make a gift in support of the project, please contact Senior Director Kelly Makosch at (607) 275-9487 or  Watch a beautiful aerial video highlighting the property at

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected nearly 25,000 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 150 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.

To learn about how the Finger Lakes Land Trust is protecting water through conservation and restoration projects, visit our water quality hub Information on the region’s premiere destinations for outdoor recreation—including the Hinchcliff Family Preserve and Bear Swamp State Forest—may be found at, a resource created by the Land Trust to encourage people to get outdoors.

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