Photo: Staff

Emerald Necklace Grows with Addition to Robinson Hollow State Forest

Ithaca, NY – The Finger Lakes Land Trust accepted a donation of 28 hillside acres in the town of Richford, Tioga County.

Protection of the property safeguards the West Branch of Owego Creek, a high quality brook trout steam, as well as views of the surrounding hills from state route 79. Michael Barnes donated the property with the understanding that the land will be conveyed to New York State as an addition to Robinson Hollow State Forest.

Robinson Hollow is in the Emerald Necklace—a sweeping expanse 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 80 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas, and are recognized as a priority for protection within New York State’s Open Space Plan.

The donated property is entirely forested and contains diverse tree species including beech, white pine, hemlock, yellow birch, and cherry. Acquiring the land expands recreational opportunities to the public since the property has a trail leading to Robinson Hollow State Forest from Pacific Road.  Its protection also serves to maintain wildlife habitat connectivity and promotes resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

This project represents the Land Trust’s second addition to Robinson Hollow State Forest. A land transfer process is currently underway for the 1st addition—a 12-acre wetland on the West Branch of Owego Creek in the Tompkins County town of Caroline. This wetland provides habitat for juvenile eastern brook trout.

“We’re grateful to Michael Barnes for this wonderful gift,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp.  “By adding these lands to the adjacent state forest, we’re expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation while helping to protect water quality within one of our region’s premiere trout streams.”

Elsewhere in Owego Creek watershed, the Land Trust has protected an additional 241 acres at the Goetchius Wetland Preserve and King Nature Preserve, and holds a conservation easement on 120 acres just north of the hamlet of Richford. Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 19,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, majestic forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust today owns and manages a network of nature preserves that are open to the public and holds conservation easements on more than 120 properties that remain in private ownership.

The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and land that is important for water quality, connecting conserved lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and local residents about conservation tools and the region’s unique natural resources. Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at