Photo: Matt Champlin

Land Trust Protects Over 300 Acres of Scenic Farmland

The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced it has protected 310 acres of pastures, crop fields, and woodlands at Birdsall Farm in the town of Scott, Cortland County. The property consists of two contiguous parcels with 4,600 feet of frontage on State Route 41—145 acres owned by Heather and Dennis Birdsall and 165 acres held in trust by Kay Birdsall, Dennis’ mother.

The Land Trust completed two conservation easement agreements, one for each parcel, permanently protecting the farm that is located in an area of increasing residential development. The easements will ensure the property is not subdivided and that it will remain in agriculture in perpetuity.

Photo: Matt Champlin

Several small, intermittent streams flow through the forested hillsides on the property and eventually drain into Factory Brook, a state-classified trout stream and tributary of the Tioughnioga River, which is part of the headwaters of the Upper Susquehanna watershed.

Heather and Dennis Birdsall bought their first 143 acres in 2002 to raise beef cattle, and have since expanded their operation by purchasing additional lands. In 2019, the FLLT completed two conservation easements on an additional 628 acres owned by Heather and Dennis, located in both Cortland and Onondaga counties.

Funds for the project came from the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grants Program (FPIG), administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.