Photo: Bill Hecht

Land Acquisition Expands Greenbelt Adding to Protection of Skaneateles Lake

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) purchased 28 acres adjacent to its Hinchcliff Family Preserve in the town of Spafford, Onondaga County. A mix of fields and hardwood forest, the property is located at the south end of Skaneateles Lake and features 640 feet of frontage on Vincent Hill Road, just west of State Route 41.

The property will be added to the Hinchcliff Preserve, expanding it to over 300 acres. This new addition secures steep slopes susceptible to erosion, prevents runoff to the lake, and buffers a new hiking trail on a 75-acre property the FLLT added to the preserve in June 2020.

An aerial view of green hills and a blue lake

Photo: Bill Hecht

This project is part of a larger effort to create a greenbelt around the southern half of Skaneateles Lake. The 75-acre addition links the FLLT’s Hinchcliff Preserve with its High Vista Preserve, creating a 2.25-mile-long corridor of conserved lands overlooking the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake. Other recent projects include the acquisition of 100 acres of woodlands and wetlands at Bear Swamp and protecting the 508-acre Valley View Farm in Cortland and Onondaga counties with a conservation easement.

“This is another step in the FLLT’s efforts to protect the steep slopes around Skaneateles Lake that are so important to water quality,” said Dave Birchenough, President of the FLLT Board of Directors and Skaneateles resident. “The importance of minimizing erosion can’t be overstated.”

“Preserving undeveloped land in the watershed is such a key component in the overall effort to maintain or improve water quality in the lake,” said Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) President Paul Torrisi. “Kudos to one of the key partners on SLA’s Lake Ecology Team on their latest acquisition!”

Land protection within this greenbelt and throughout the Skaneateles Lake watershed is vitally important, as the lake serves as the source of drinking water for the city of Syracuse. Other publicly accessible conservation lands in the area include Carpenter Falls State Unique Area and the FLLT’s Bahar Nature Preserve and Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area.