Photo: Stefanie Delaney

Acquisition Expands State’s Largest Wildlife Management Area

Ithaca, NY. The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced the acquisition of an 86-acre parcel of land adjacent to Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area in the town of Catharine, Schuyler County.

Connecticut Hill encompasses more than 11,500 acres of undeveloped land southwest of Ithaca and is the largest wildlife management area in the state of New York. The Land Trust will own and manage the property until sufficient funds are available to allow for purchase of the land by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). At that point, the property will transfer to the state and become part of the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area.

Photo: Bill Hecht

Photo: Bill Hecht

This parcel features mature hardwood forests of beech, oak, maple, and hickory with scattered pines and hemlocks. It also encompasses fields that are covered with a mix of grasses and wildflowers. Addition of this land to the adjacent wildlife management area will significantly enhance public access to state land since the property features nearly 1,000 feet of level road frontage.

With elevations reaching 2,000 feet, Connecticut Hill is a popular destination for hikers, birders, and hunters, as well as winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. In total, Connecticut Hill contains approximately nine miles of designated hiking trails, and many more miles of dirt roads and access lanes. Recognized as one of the state’s Important Bird Areas¬, Connecticut Hill is host to a wide variety of songbirds, as well as wide ranging mammals such as fishers and black bear.

Connecticut Hill is also an important component of the Emerald Necklace, a proposed greenbelt linking 50,000 acres of existing conservation land in an arc around Ithaca, from the Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to the Hammond Hill State Forest in the east. The Emerald Necklace is a key conservation priority for the Land Trust.

“This acquisition helps ensures the integrity of one of our region’s largest intact forests and also enhances public access for outdoor recreation,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We intend to protect additional land in this area with a particular focus on linking Connecticut Hill to other nearby conservation lands.”

This is the second time in the past 12 months that the Land Trust has partnered with NYSDEC to expand the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area. Last fall, the Land Trust purchased a 16-acre tract about two miles south of the recent acquisition that is surrounded on three sides by Connecticut Hill and has frontage on a perennial stream that flows into nearby Cayuta Lake.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust protects over 17,000 acres of our region’s beloved forests, fields, wetlands, streams, and lakeshores. The Land Trust today owns and manages a network of 36 conservation areas that are open to the public and holds conservation easements on more than 100 properties that remain in private ownership.

The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and water resources, connecting conserved lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. We also hold programs to educate local governments, landowners, and the community about conservation. The Land Trust works within the 12-county Finger Lakes Region—an area roughly the size of Vermont. Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at www.fllt.org.