Photo: Bill Hecht

Land Trust Protects 324 Acres of Farmland, Forest, and Wetlands in Fall Creek Watershed

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) today announced it has permanently protected 324 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and agricultural fields at Prince Farm in Dryden, Tompkins County. Owned by Cheryl Prince-Brotherton, the farm is located on both sides of State Route 13 near its intersection with Ringwood Road, a prime location for development.

The property has been in Cheryl’s family for three generations. Henry Prince, her grandfather, first purchased 139 acres on the north side of Route 13 in 1933, using money he saved from various farm work. Henry started a dairy farm and was eventually joined by his son, and Cheryl’s father Russell, who acquired an additional 185 acres south of Route 13 in 1958. Russell operated the dairy until the early 1990s. Today, much of the land is leased to a local dairy farm that has been growing organic hay on the property for more than two decades.

Photo: Chris Ray

Wanting to ensure that her family’s connection to the land be protected, Cheryl worked with FLLT to secure two conservation easements on the property, one on each side of Route 13. Funding was secured through grants from both the Town of Dryden and Tompkins County to help cover the transaction costs of the conservation easements and establish a long-term stewardship fund.

In addition to open space used for farming, the property contains approximately two-thirds of the Etna Swamp, a wetland designated by Tompkins County as a Unique Natural Area. Etna Swamp drains into Fall Creek, the source of drinking water for Cornell University. On the other side of Route 13, the property contains wooded hills that provide spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. By preventing development, both easements will add to the protection of Fall Creek’s water quality and ensure that the land remain in agriculture.

“The Town of Dryden is pleased that the Finger Lakes Land Trust was able to work with Ms. Prince-Brotherton to protect this valuable piece of farmland in Dryden,” said Town Supervisor Jason Leifer. “We have had a good relationship with the Land Trust and have worked together over the years to protect farmland and other environmentally sensitive areas in Dryden. Here, not only will farmland be protected, but both Fall Creek and a unique natural area as well.”

“This is a wonderful gift to the community by Cheryl Prince-Brotherton,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “Conservation of this land continues the area’s agricultural tradition while protecting wetlands that provide significant wildlife habitat and help maintain water quality within Fall Creek.”

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that permanently limit future land use in order to protect the land’s conservation values. Lands subject to conservation easements remain in private ownership, on local tax rolls, and available for traditional uses such as farming and hunting.