The Land Trust recently acquired 144 wooded acres, containing approximately one mile of the Finger Lakes Trail, in the town of Danby, Tompkins County.
The property was purchased in partnership with the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Tompkins County. The land will ultimately be conveyed to New York State as an addition to Danby State Forest.
Acquisition of the property permanently protects this segment of the 585-mile Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) and eliminate a road walk portion, thereby improving trail accessibility and safety. Additionally, the layout and design of hiking and snowmobile trails within the state forest will be enhanced with the addition of the new parcel.
The property is situated within 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. Protection of the property ensures wildlife habitat continuity identified as a priority in both the Tompkins County 2007 Countywide Conservation Plan and the New York State Strategic Forest Management Plan.
The Land Trust secured a loan from the FLTC’s Sidote Stewardship Fund to purchase the property and also received a $6,500 grant from Tompkins County’s Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and Recreational Resource Protection.
This was the first major project undertaken by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference using the Sidote Stewardship Fund. The fund, initiated by Ed Sidote of Norwich (1917-2015) and supported by members of the FLT Forever Society and FLT members and friends, helps fund the FLTC’s mission to “… build, protect, enhance, and promote a continuous footpath across New York State. Forever!” Sidote, known as “Mr. Finger Lakes Trail,” had dedicated decades of his life to helping introduce people to the benefits of hiking and the outdoors.
“The Finger Lakes Trail Conference is proud to partner with the Land Trust,” said FLTC President Pat Monahan. “We have collaborated in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Our mission statements are very compatible. Together we can protect the Finger Lakes Trail. Forever.”
“Acquisition of this parcel secures a key link in the Emerald Necklace,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp. “We’re grateful for the commitment of our partners on this project. We simply couldn’t have done it without them.”
This is not the first time the Land Trust has partnered with the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. Previous partnerships have involved a popular segment of the FLT that runs through the Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook in Ithaca, the protection of over 120 acres adjacent to the Finger Lakes National Forest in Hector, and the establishment of the 48-acre Bock-Harvey Preserve in Enfield.
Update, September 2017: The Land Trust acquired 50 wooded acres in the town of Caroline, bordering the property mentioned in this article. Both parcels neighbor each other on Eastman Hill and together, link Danby State Forest to Coddington Road in the Willseyville Valley.