Photo: Bob Teitelbaum

Emerald Necklace Grows Through Land Purchase

The Land Trust acquired 158 forested acres in southern Tompkins County, within the Emerald Necklace Greenbelt – a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Plan.

The property is adjacent to the Land Trust’s existing 196-acre Charles Spencer Nature Preserve and is located in close proximity to Cornell University’s Arnot Forest.  The Land Trust pursued protection of the land in order to secure valuable wildlife habitat and also enhance public access to its existing preserve.

Photo: Bob Teitelbaum

Photo: Bob Teitelbaum

Approximately 70 acres of the property will be added to the Charles Spencer Nature Preserve, while 88 acres will be sold subject to a permanent conservation easement limiting development to a single home.  The easement will allow sustainable harvest of timber from the land but will prohibit subdivision.

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.

This latest addition to the Emerald Necklace was purchased from Howard Ott, who generously agreed to sell the land for less than its appraised fair market value.  The acquisition was also supported by a grant from Tompkins County’s Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and Recreational Resource Protection and land protection funds donated by members of the Land Trust.

“We’re grateful to Mr. Ott for helping to make this project possible,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “We also greatly appreciate the support of Tompkins County and all of our members who are helping to make the Emerald Necklace a reality.”

During the coming year, the Land Trust will finalize a management plan for the portion of the Ott property that it will add to the adjacent Charles Spencer Nature Preserve.  Plans will be developed to create hiking trails on the land along with a modest parking area.  The organization will launch a fundraising campaign to cover these costs and also to raise funds for the long term stewardship of the site.

The Emerald Necklace is a proposed greenbelt that will ultimately 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 Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area in the south, and to Hammond Hill and Robinson Hollow State Forests in the east.

The necklace includes several dozen county-designated Unique Natural Areas and hosts approximately 100 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail.  The Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 2,000 acres of land in this area since the organization worked with partners to launch the Emerald Necklace project ten years ago.