Photo: Chris Ray

West Hill Wildway Expands Through Public-Private Partnership

The Town of Ithaca and the Land Trust completed a 38-acre addition to the town’s conservation lands on West Hill. Once part of a farm owned by the Babcock family, the property is situated within the West Hill Wildway—a growing greenbelt extending along the west side of Ithaca from Robert Treman State Park to Bundy Road.

The property features mature hardwood forest and extensive frontage on Culver Road. The Land Trust acquired the parcel in 2017 and held it until sufficient funds were available to allow for purchase of the land by the town. Conserving this property will help protect water quality in the Cayuga Lake watershed and secure diverse habitat for wildlife. It also creates additional outdoor recreational opportunities for residents living on Ithaca’s West Hill and visitors to the area.

Photo: Chris Ray

Situated between Bostwick Road and the east side of Culver Road, the Town of Ithaca already owns and manages three existing preserves totaling 82 acres: Marcia’s Woods Preserve, Gerda Knegtman’s Glen Preserve, and Dress Woods Preserve. The addition of this new preserve expands the wildway by linking Town of Ithaca conservation land with the Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Coy Glen Natural Area. Undeveloped lands within the wildway also include the YMCA’s environmental education facility on State Route 79, Land Trust conservation easements on Sheffield Farm, and portions of EcoVillage.

According to Town Supervisor Bill Goodman, “The town is pleased once again to work with the Finger Lakes Land Trust to help preserve some important forest resources in the Coy Glen Critical Environmental Area.”

“This is a great addition to our growing network of conserved lands in the Ithaca area,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp.  “We’re grateful for the town’s commitment to conservation and we look forward to additional partnership projects in the future.”

The town’s 1997 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, as well as its 2014 Comprehensive Plan, both state as a fundamental goal: the provision of an integrated system of open spaces with linkages among trails, parks, nature preserves, and stream corridors for active and passive recreational opportunities.  In addition, the Comprehensive Plan calls for the acquisition and permanent protection of environmentally sensitive areas of the town.

The Land Trust acquired an additional 35 adjacent acres here, and is now working with representatives of the town to determine the best strategy for conserving this second parcel.