Photo: Chris Ray

Partnership with Cornell University Buffers Old-Growth Forest in Tompkins County

A unique partnership between the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), Cornell Botanic Gardens, and Tompkins County resulted in the addition of 81 acres of wetlands and mixed hardwood forest to the Fischer Old-Growth Forest Natural Area.

Managed by Cornell Botanic Gardens, the Fischer Old-Growth Forest is a 180-acre natural area in Newfield, New York, tucked into an inconspicuous glen between West Danby Road and Elmira Road (Route 13). The addition expands the natural area to the north and east, providing more diverse habitat and a buffer between the existing forest and future development. Protection of the property also safeguards sensitive wetlands which filter runoff to the adjacent Cayuga Inlet.

Photo: Chris Ray

Funding for closing, administrative, and initial stewardship costs was provided by the Tompkins County Natural Infrastructure Capital Grant Program. However, the program required Cornell Botanic Gardens to legally protect the property from being subdivided or used for non-conservation purposes. The Land Trust agreed to hold a conservation easement for Cornell to satisfy the Natural Infrastructure grant requirement.

With funds from the Tompkins County grant, Cornell will also make a donation to the FLLT’s stewardship endowment fund which supports the organization in its legal obligation to inspect properties and enforce the terms of the conservation easements.

Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas for the Cornell Botanic Gardens, reflected on the collaboration shortly after the land was transferred to Cornell University. “Land conservation rarely happens without strong partnerships. We are fortunate to have committed conservation partners that are willing to find novel solutions that ensure our collective natural heritage is conserved.”