Photo: Bill Hecht

Land Purchase Adds to Network of Conserved Lands in Yates County

The Land Trust has partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to acquire 72 acres of land contiguous to High Tor Wildlife Management Area in the town of Italy, Yates County.

The High-Tor Wildlife Management Area/Bristol Hills area is marked by extensive and largely unfragmented forests that blanket the steep hills, gullies and eroded cliffs carved by glaciers. The area offers exceptional scenic vistas of the Naples Valley, Canandaigua Lake and Honeoye Lake and provides opportunities to preserve working forest lands.

The High Tor Wildlife Management Area is also a popular recreational area attracting visitors from a wide area.  This transfer wrapped up a seven-year effort that began when the Land Trust negotiated the sale and acquired the property on behalf of the state.

“This land adjacent to the High Tor Wildlife Management Area was identified in the State’s Open Space Plan. I truly appreciate the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s willingness to partner with DEC by buying this parcel. This ensures that these lands remain as open space in this area of increasing development pressures,” said Regional Director Paul D’Amato.

The land transfer was paid for by the state using federal Wildlife Restoration Funds, also known as Pittman Robertson Funds.  The Land Trust will roll over the funds obtained from this sale into its Forever Fund, an internal revolving loan fund that is used to facilitate time sensitive acquisition projects. The Forever Fund was launched with the support of a bequest from the estate of the late Al Craig of Canadice, Ontario County.

Andy Zepp Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director said, “this acquisition creates a link between thousands of acres of existing public conservation land – enhancing public access and creating a corridor for wildlife. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to partner with New York State to ensure the future of this key parcel within the Canandaigua Lake Watershed.”

Earlier this year, the Land Trust signed a deed conveying the northern half of Conklin Gully to the state as an addition to High Tor. In addition to these cooperative acquisitions with the state, the Land Trust has also created two nature preserves (named Great Hill and West River) adjacent to High Tor and holds several conservation easements. In total, the trust has protected a dozen land parcels in this area.

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 33 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