Public Access in Finger Lakes Gets Some Help

Photo by Bill Hecht

New York State Conservation Partnership Program Advances Land Protection and Public Access in the Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced it has been awarded a total of $60,000 for two projects in Seneca and Onondaga Counties. A total of $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants have been awarded to 55 nonprofit land trusts across the State of New York. The program is funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Land Trust’s “Otisco Lake Shoreline Protection Project” was awarded $30,000 to assist with the purchase of 38 acres with 1,300 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Otisco Lake in Onondaga County.  The forested property features prime habitat for Bald Eagles, Osprey, and a variety of waterfowl.  The site also features mature forests, several tributaries to the lake and a deep ravine with a scenic 40’ waterfall. The Land Trust intends to turn the property into a new publicly accessible conservation area for low impact uses such as hiking, bird watching, and fishing.

Conservation of the site will help protect the lake’s water quality and preserve the scenic character of the surrounding landscape. Public access to the rugged portion of the property that has been utilized by Bald Eagles in the past will be discouraged.

The Land Trust’s “Creating Connections” project was also awarded $30,000 to convert 1,225 feet of mowed path through its 30-acre Bishop Nature Preserve in Seneca County to a crushed stone surface that will be suitable for bicycles, families and visitors with limited mobility. The stone path will also thwart encroaching poison ivy on the trail, creating family-friendly access to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail, a multi-purpose recreational trail that extends 5 miles from the preserve to the city of Geneva. The grant will also assist the Land Trust with parking and site interpretation improvements to foster greater public access to both the preserve and the rail trail.

“We’re grateful for the support of the New York State Conservation Partnership Program,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “These two grants will help us enhance public access to our region’s scenic natural areas.”

The Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 18,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, majestic forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust today owns and manages a network of nature preserves that are open to the public and holds conservation easements on more than 120 properties that remain in private ownership.

The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and land that is important for water quality, connecting conserved lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and local residents about conservation tools and the region’s unique natural resources.  The Land Trust’s service area includes 12 counties that encompass the Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier.  Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at

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