Photo: Chris Ray

Conservation Easement Protects 89 Forested Acres Within Ithaca’s Emerald Necklace

The Land Trust permanently protected 89 forested acres in southern Tompkins County through the use of a perpetual conservation easement. The property is adjacent to the Land Trust’s existing 200-acre Charles Spencer Nature Preserve and falls within the Emerald Necklace—a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Plan.

The Land Trust acquired the property in May 2017 along with an additional 70 contiguous acres that were immediately added to the Charles Spencer Preserve. The remaining 89 acres were sold subject to an easement limiting development to a single home. The easement will allow sustainable timber harvest but prohibits subdivision.

Photo: Chris Ray

The Land Trust pursued protection of the land in order to secure valuable wildlife habitat and also enhance public access to its existing preserve. The property features a mature forest composed of oak, maple, ash, and beech, with scattered pines. It also includes a portion of the headwaters of a tributary to Cayuta Creek and the Susquehanna River. The land is located on Jackson Hollow and Scherer Roads in the town of Newfield.

Protection of the property expands the network of conserved lands known as the Emerald Necklace. The Emerald Necklace is an ambitious effort to link 50,000 acres of existing public open space that extends in an arc around Ithaca – from Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests in the east. These lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas, and several dozen Tompkins County-designated Unique Natural Areas.

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.