Photo: Staff

Conservation Agreement Helps Protect Water Quality Near Seneca Lake

Ithaca, NY – Landowners Stephen and Kathryn Trechter recently expanded their conservation easement to protect 25 additional acres bordering Sugar Hill State Forest.

The addition expands the Trechter’s protected lands to 82 acres in the town of Orange, Schuyler County– just west of Watkins Glen. The property is home to a diversity of habitats ranging from old farm fields to shrub lands and mature forest.  A mix of hardwoods and conifers is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including hermit thrushes and the occasional black bear.  Hikers enjoy views of the Trechter’s woodlands from the Finger Lakes Trail, which passes through their land.

Photo: FLLT

Photo: FLLT

A portion of the property is used for organic farming with maple syrup, homemade soap, and other products supplementing the herbs that are their specialty.  The additional 25 acres is located within the watershed of Glen Creek, which flows through the dramatic gorge in Watkins Glen State Park. In turn, Glen Creek flows into Catherine Creek, a principal tributary to Seneca Lake.

“Always there are reasons to protect and preserve what is meaningful,” said the Trechters.  “Sugar Hill has been a place where maple syrup was made.  Earlier, it was known as Six Nations Hill where all the tribes of the Iroquois nation met.  It has forever abounded in beauty, especially where the world of nature stands alone, protected as a state forest, and also by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.”

Within the Seneca Lake watershed, the Land Trust holds six additional conservation easements on private property and owns the 110-acre Martin Nature Preserve. The organization is also working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore a 140-acre wetland adjacent to Queen Catherine Marsh at the south end of Seneca Lake.

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.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 19,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forests, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust today owns and manages a network of 33 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. Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at