The Land Trust acquired 139 acres, just east of Ithaca, in the town of Richford, Tioga County. The property will be conveyed to New York State in the future as an addition to Robinson Hollow State Forest, which almost entirely surrounds the parcel.
The property occupies a hilltop situated between two tributaries to the West Branch of Owego Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River. Steep slopes define the western and eastern edges of the property and both feature a mixed hardwood forest with assorted pine. Rolling fields were long-maintained as grassland bird habitat by the previous landowners, and a pond adds to the site’s diversity. The Finger Lakes Trail borders the parcel’s western boundary and runs north through the state forest.
Protecting this property secures important wildlife habitat, safeguards two tributaries to the West Branch of the Owego Creek, and enhances public access to Robinson Hollow State Forest. It also 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.
This project is the latest of twelve completed by the Land Trust in the Owego Creek watershed, where the organization has already protected more than 1,000 acres. Owego Creek is one of the Finger Lakes region’s premiere trout streams. The headwaters support a native brook trout population and provide critical juvenile rearing habitat. Accordingly, Owego Creek has priority conservation status with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.