Land Trust Receives $4.5 Million in State Grant Funding for Water Protection Efforts

The Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area on Skaneateles Lake. Photo by Darin Harrison
03/21/2024

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) recently announced that it was awarded $4.5 million in state grant funding through New York State’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP). The WQIP program funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source.

$4,464,000 was awarded for conservation projects within the Skaneateles, Owasco, Seneca, and Keuka Lake watersheds. A grant of $1,384,000 will be used to support the acquisition and restoration of lands bordering Shotwell Brook, a significant tributary of Skaneateles Lake. Shotwell Brook enters the lake near the intake for the city of Syracuse’s drinking water supply. 

The FLLT also received a grant of $1,240,000 to support projects within the Owasco Lake watershed and $1,840,000 for projects within the Keuka and Seneca lake watersheds.

FLLT projects supported by previous WQIP grants include the Otisco Shores Conservation Area on the eastern shore of Otisco Lake; the acquisition of pristine undeveloped shoreline on the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake; and perpetual conservation easements on land bordering Six Mile Creek–the source of Ithaca’s drinking water supply.

“These grants will really make a difference,” said FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “The health of our lakes depends on the health of our watersheds. This funding will allow us to secure sensitive lands where we can implement restoration projects to ensure water quality.”

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 32,000 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 187 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 www.fllt.org.

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