Photo: Bill Hecht

Expansion of Bahar Nature Preserve Adds to Protection of Skaneateles Lake

The Finger Lakes Land Trust acquired a 1.5-acre addition to its Bahar Nature Preserve in the town of Niles, Cayuga County. The entirely wooded property features approximately 200 feet of undeveloped shoreline on the south end of Skaneateles Lake and 150 feet of frontage on Bear Swamp Creek, making this an important project for watershed protection.

The 51-acre Bahar Preserve features a dramatic forest and gorge landscape with a startling view of the 100-foot-deep Bear Swamp Creek ravine. The preserve is contiguous with the iconic Carpenter Falls Unique Area, owned and managed by New York State.

Photo: Bill Hecht

The project is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Improvement Project program (WQIP). The program funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source. The Skaneateles Lake watershed provides drinking water for 220,000 area residents, including people living in the city of Syracuse.

The south end of Skaneateles Lake is a conservation priority for the organization due to its steep forested hillsides and wetlands that harbor rare flora and a remarkable diversity of birds. The Land Trust is creating a greenbelt of conserved lands around the south end of the lake that will protect the lake’s water quality and also building a network of trails for residents and visitors alike.

In 2019, the Land Trust acquired 900 feet of Skaneateles Lake shoreline along with 90 acres of hillside forest on the eastern side of the lake, in the town of Spafford, Onondaga County. The property is contiguous to the organization’s Cora Kampfe Dickinson Preserve, bringing the total amount of protected Skaneateles Lake shoreline owned by the organization in this area to 2,200 feet.

The Land Trust is also currently under contract to purchase 75 acres in the towns of Scott and Spafford that will link its High Vista and Hinchcliff Family preserves. In addition to expanding a trail connection between the preserves, this project will also protect Skaneateles Lake’s water quality by preventing development on its steep forested hillsides.