Photo: Nigel Kent

Conservation Agreement Protects Land Near Canandaigua Lake

Easement protects 181 acres adjacent to state wildlife management area near Canandaigua Lake.

Ithaca, NY – The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced today that that it has accepted a donation of a conservation easement on 181 wooded acres in the Town of Italy, Yates County, from Philip Cusick, a resident of Connecticut and a seasonal visitor to the Finger Lakes.

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 protected property shares 2,385 feet of boundary with New York State’s High Tor Wildlife Management Area, an area comprising 6,100 acres of public conservation land.  High Tor spans portions of Ontario and Yates Counties and is recognized by National Audubon as one of New York’s Important Bird Areas.  This area is also recognized as a priority project within New York State’s Open Space Plan.

Photo: Nigel Kent

The conservation easement will ensure the integrity of a parcel that is uniquely situated within both the Canandaigua Lake Watershed and the Upper Flint Creek Watershed.  The property encompasses a diverse mix of mature woodlands, meadows, and brush land.  The land provides habitat for a variety of wildlife including wide ranging species such as Black Bear.

The easement agreement will prohibit subdivision of the land while allowing for the construction of a single home on the property as well as agricultural use and the selective harvest of timber.

Philip Cusick bought the property in 2006 from his sister, Carol Cusick Fenton and brother-in-law, Thomas P. Fenton, who had owned the property since the 1970s.  Carol and Tom planted trees, created open spaces and hiking trails, and for many years enjoyed the ever-evolving beauty of their hill-top property.  Philip decided to undertake the easement in honor of Carol and Tom, naming it the “Fenton Easement”.

The Fenton conservation easement marks the 114th easement held by the Land Trust and adds to the more than 16,000 acres already protected by the organization.  “This is a wonderful gift,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “Protection of this land will secure a large contiguous block of wildlife habitat while also helping ensure Canandaigua Lake’s water quality.”

The completion of this project is the Land Trust’s tenth in the vicinity of the High Tor Wildlife Management Area.  Earlier accomplishments include the acquisition of the northern half of Conklin Gully – a popular destination for hikers, the acquisition of frontage on the West River – a destination for fishers and paddlers, and its partnership with the Town of South Bristol to establish Carolabarb Park –well known for its scenic overlook just west of the wildlife management area.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust is a member supported non-profit conservation organization that works cooperatively with landowners and local communities to permanently protect those lands that are vital to the character of the Finger Lakes Region.  To date, the Land Trust has worked with partners to secure more than 16,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped shoreline, scenic farmland, rugged gorges, and majestic forest.  The organization today owns and manages 35 conservation areas that are accessible to the public and holds conservation easements on more than 100 properties that remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls.  Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at