Photo: Bill Hecht

Land Trust Partnership Protects Bald Eagle Habitat at Owasco Flats

Ithaca, NY – The Finger Lakes Land Trust has acquired 33 acres near the south end of Owasco Lake in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the Villages of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen.

The property was purchased as part of a mitigation project aimed at offsetting the disturbance of Bald Eagle habitat near Seneca Lake. The Villages of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen are constructing a new waste water treatment plant next to Queen Catherine Marsh, at the south end of Seneca Lake. This new construction may disturb existing Bald Eagle habitat, a conflict which is regulated by the NYSDEC.  The Villages are required to alleviate the impact on the eagles by minimizing disturbance during construction, but also by permanently protecting eagle habitat elsewhere.

In this case, elsewhere turns out to be the Owasco Flats – an extensive area of wetlands, meadows and forests located between the Village of Moravia and Owasco Lake.  Bald Eagles and many other birds use this area which is recognized as a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Plan.

Through the mitigation process, the Land Trust acquired the Owasco Flats property on behalf of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen and will donate the parcel to the NYSDEC in the future.  The 33-acre property is located on Rockefeller Road north of Moravia and it includes 1,700 feet of frontage along the Owasco Inlet.  The parcel was identified as a priority for protection due its use by eagles, and other birds, as well as its potential for stream bank and wetland restoration.  Protection of the property will also help maintain water quality within nearby Owasco Lake.

This will be the third parcel acquired by the NYSDEC for the establishment of the Owasco Flats Wildlife Management Area.  The Finger Lakes Land Trust has assisted with each of these acquisitions and has also helped the Owasco Flats Nature Preserve acquire a parcel adjacent to a Cayuga County Park, at the north end of the Flats.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, 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 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.  The Land Trust’s service area includes 12 counties that encompass the Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier.  Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at