The Finger Lakes Land Trust purchased 75 acres of woodlands in Cortland and Onondaga counties, just west of State Route 41. This acquisition links the organization’s High Vista and Hinchcliff Family preserves, creating a 2.25 mile-long corridor of conservation land overlooking the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake.
The property is located in an area of steeply sloping hillsides that are vital to the health of Skaneateles Lake, the source of drinking water for the city of Syracuse. Extensive forest and rugged ravines define the landscape which is designated as an Important Bird Area; Bald Eagles make their home here as do a number of different warbler species.
“This property was a top priority for protection because of its value for watershed protection,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “It is also a key link in a greenbelt that will ultimately extend around the southern half of Skaneateles Lake.”
The Land Trust will now complete a natural resource inventory of the property and will develop a management plan to guide future public access, including a hiking trail linking the three preserves. It is hoped that this trail system will one day be extended south and west to link with trails in Bear Swamp State Forest.
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. Creating a greenbelt of conserved lands around the lake’s south end will add to protection of the lake’s water quality and also build upon recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
“The steep, forested hills at the south end of Skaneateles Lake are a special place to me,” said Dave Birchenough, President of the FLLT Board of Directors and Skaneateles resident. “Preserving an area so important to lake ecology while expanding the public hiking trail network is our legacy for the next generations.”
The Land Trust is actively fundraising to cover acquisition costs, construct the new hiking trail, and provide for long-term stewardship of this land. To make a gift in support of the project, please contact Senior Director Kelly Makosch at (607) 275-9487 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch a beautiful aerial video highlighting the property at fllt.org/highlands.