Photo: Andrew Breedlove/DEC

Governor Hochul Announces Creation of Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area in Tompkins County

Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the permanent protection of the 287-acre Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area, which provides public access to 3,500 feet of pristine shoreline on the east side of Cayuga Lake in Tompkins County.

Located in the town of Lansing, the Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area features a variety of exceptional fish and wildlife habitat including multiple streams, wooded hillsides, and extensive fields.

“Generations of New Yorkers have experienced the extraordinary beauty of Cayuga Lake, and these investments will ensure this invaluable resource is protected for decades to come,” Governor Hochul said. “Through investments that foster a healthier environment and safeguard access to clean drinking water, we’re securing the promise of this region and acting on our commitment to preserve it.”

In 2021, Governor Hochul worked to shift a planned public auction of the New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) Corporation’s former Bell Station property and help protect the largest privately owned shoreline parcel along Cayuga Lake. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), and NYSEG collaborated to facilitate the permanent protection of the property and maximize public access.

DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar joined with the Finger Lakes Land Trust and partners on June 3, 2024, to celebrate the announcement of the creation of the new Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area. Photo: Andrew Breedlove/DEC

In 2022, FLLT purchased the property from NYSEG following an outpouring of individual donations totaling $500,000 and in partnership with the Park Foundation, which provided a $2 million loan. DEC recently finalized the state’s purchase and is establishing the Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area (WMA) with $2.5 million from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, “Through Governor Hochul’s leadership in securing this conservation agreement, New York is making important progress in protecting water quality and enhancing recreation in the Finger Lakes region. Preserving this area will not only reduce erosion and the threat of harmful algal blooms, it will enhance hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching opportunities in the region for generations to come. DEC commends our partners at the Finger Lakes Land Trust and NYSEG for their efforts to advance the creation of the new Cayuga Shores WMA to protect this unique lakefront parcel and the habitats it supports.”

Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp said, “The establishment of the Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area is a tremendous win for the Finger Lakes region and for all New York State residents who are now able to enjoy this special stretch of shoreline. This was truly a team effort, and we are grateful for the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, and the strong support of our partners at DEC, our elected officials, and the local community. This project clearly shows how we can work together to protect our environment, provide for clean drinking water, and achieve our economic goals.”

Assemblymember Anna R. Kelles said, “The establishment of the Cayuga Shores Wildlife Management Area is a monumental step forward in our efforts to protect the natural beauty and environmental health that we are fortunate to have in Tompkins County. This $2.5 million investment not only preserves 3,500 feet of pristine Cayuga Lake shoreline but also enhances recreational opportunities for our community. By protecting this vital habitat, we are ensuring the sustainability of our local ecosystem, supporting biodiversity, and ensuring the well-being of our community. I am proud to support Governor Hochul’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the well-being of our upstate region.”

The acquisition of Cayuga Shores WMA increases public recreation opportunities by providing direct shoreline access and all-new hunting, trapping, and wildlife viewing opportunities to the east side of Cayuga Lake, which is 90 percent privately owned. The lake supports incredible sport fisheries, including largemouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, crappie, yellow perch, sunfish, lake trout, rainbow trout, gar, and bowfin. Cayuga Lake is also designated as an Important Bird Area by Audubon New York and supports a large and diverse population of waterfowl and other birds, particularly during migration and winter.

DEC will manage Cayuga Shores for wildlife conservation, habitat, and wildlife-associated recreation, including hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography. Habitat management for wildlife is a critical aspect of the statewide wildlife management area system and vitally includes forested and open landscapes. Common management techniques to enhance wildlife habitat involve invasive species control, patch clear-cutting, seed tree release, vegetation thinning, mowing, and planting. Some wildlife that can commonly be found on and around the gently sloping topography of this WMA include white-tailed deer, many songbird species, bald eagles, numerous species of waterfowl, mink, and gray squirrels.

See the Governor’s full press release.