Towns of Canandaigua and Ithaca Recognized as “Conservationists of the Year”

Canandaigua Town Manager Doug Finch, FLLT board president Dave Birchenough, State Senator Pam Helming, volunteer Marty Dodge, landowners Duannah Barnum and Suzie Underhill, and FLLT Executive Director Andy Zepp at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the Canandaigua Vista Nature Preserve in fall 2021. Photo by Kelly Maksoch

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) announced that it is recognizing both the Town of Canandaigua and the Town of Ithaca as its “Conservationists of the Year.” Both municipalities acted quickly to secure significant open space over the course of the past year and continue to build on their ongoing commitment to land and water conservation.

The FLLT recognized the Town of Canandaigua for successfully acquiring a key addition to McJannett Park. The property is located within a planned greenbelt that may ultimately connect the FLLT’s Canandaigua Vista Preserve to the town’s Onanda Park on the western shore of Canandaigua Lake.

This recent acquisition continues a partnership between the Town of Canandaigua and the FLLT that includes collaboration on multiple farmland protection projects and the town’s financial support for the FLLT’s acquisition of the Canandaigua Vista Preserve.

The Town of Ithaca was recognized for its creative and timely acquisition of a property bordering the Cayuga Inlet that features significant fish and wildlife habitat. The property is located within the proposed Black Diamond Rail Trail extension that will ultimately connect the city of Ithaca to Robert Treman H. State Park. This is the second property that the town has acquired for conservation in this area.

The FLLT and the Town of Ithaca also have a long-standing partnership that includes collaborating on the creation of three town-owned nature preserves as well as the town’s financial support for expanding the FLLT’s Tapan Mitra Preserve and creating public access.

“We are grateful to both of these communities for their commitment to conservation,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “The Land Trust couldn’t possibly succeed in its mission without strong support from communities like Canandaigua and Ithaca.”

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 30,000 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 179 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, a resource created by the FLLT to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at

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