Photo: Bill Hecht

Gift Protects 3,000+ Feet of Cayuga Lake Shoreline

Donation of a conservation easement will permanently protect over 3,000 feet shoreline on Cayuga Lake near Aurora, NY.

Ithaca, NY — The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced that it has accepted the donation of a perpetual conservation easement that will secure more than 3,000 feet of Cayuga Lake shoreline as well as 58 associated acres located between the villages of Aurora and Union Springs.

The conservation easement will ensure that one of Cayuga Lake’s longest stretches of undeveloped shoreline remains as it is.  The easement provides for the protection of mature shoreline woodlands featuring towering cottonwoods and oaks – some of which are more than 150 years old.  The agreement also provides for continued agricultural use of fields that are visible from nearby State Route 90 – the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.

Photo: Bill Hecht

Photo: Bill Hecht

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing the land to remain in private ownership.  The easement agreement is recorded in the land records and it is binding on future owners of the land.  The Land Trust is responsible for monitoring compliance with the terms of the agreement over time.

The newly protected land is owned by the Harris McIntosh Trust and is adjacent to Great Gully Farm – a scenic 650-acre tract upon which the Land Trust already holds a conservation easement. The late Harris McIntosh grew up in the nearby Village of Cayuga, leaving the area to become a prominent businessman in the Toledo, Ohio area.  He acquired this property and the adjacent Great Gully Farm as a summer home for his family.

Harris’ wife Elizabeth and his children all shared his love for the land and supported the idea of conserving this special place on the shores of Cayuga Lake.  Vince McLaughlin, Vice President and Trust Officer of KeyBank National Association, and the Trustee of the Harris McIntosh Trust, states that “The family’s desire was to develop a way to preserve the conservation values of the property in such a way that future owners might also enjoy the property’s rich amenities.”

Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp adds that “this is an extraordinary gift and we’re very grateful to both the Trust and the McIntosh Family.  This property provides outstanding habitat for fish and wildlife, including Bald Eagles and Osprey.  It’s also part of a scenic vista that is visible to anyone driving on the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.”

With the completion of this latest project, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has conserved more than a mile of undeveloped shoreline on Cayuga Lake.  While the McIntosh Trust property is not open to public access, the protected property is visible to anyone boating or paddling on the lake.  For those who are interested in visiting a stretch of undeveloped shoreline, the Land Trust provides access to its Van Riper Conservation Area & Whitlock Nature Preserve which is located on State Route 89 in the Town of Romulus on the west side of Cayuga Lake.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust is a membership supported, non-profit organization that works cooperatively with landowners and local communities to conserve those undeveloped lands that are vital to the integrity of the 12-county Finger Lakes Region.  The organization today owns and manages 34 conservation areas that are open to the public and holds conservation easements on 114 properties that remain in private ownership.  Additional information about the Land Trust and conservation easements may be found at