The new addition to Danby State Forest will protect steeply sloping woodlands bordering the Willseyville Valley in the upper right of this photo. Photo courtesy of Bill Hecht.

The following is a republished press release from the Finger Lakes Land Trust and NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements directly to The Voice, email tips@ithacavoice.com.

Ithaca, NY— The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced the recent acquisition of 50 wooded acres in the town of Caroline. This property borders a 144-acre parcel which was purchased by the Land Trust in April.  Both parcels neighbor each other on Eastman Hill and together, link Danby State Forest to Coddington Road in the Willseyville Valley.

The purchase was made possible by a loan from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference’s Sidote Stewardship Fund. When state funding is available, the Land Trust will convey the property to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) as an addition to the adjacent Danby State Forest.

The acquisition will allow the NYSDEC to consolidate state land boundaries and enhance access to the state forest through frontage on Coddington Road. It will also serve as a safety net for the Finger Lakes Trail should the nearby trail route become compromised in the future.

In addition to its importance for recreation, the property is located in a habitat linkage protection priority area identified by both the Tompkins County 2007 Countywide Conservation Plan and the New York State Strategic Forest Management Plan. The White Church-Willseyville Swamp is an identified Tompkins County Unique Natural Area and serves as the headwaters to Catatonk Creek, a classified trout stream. This unique area is immediately downslope of the forested, steep, erodible hillsides on the property.

This recent acquisition expands the network of conserved lands known as the Emerald Necklace. The Emerald Necklace is an ambitious effort to link 50,000 acres of existing public open space that extends in an arc around Ithaca – from Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests in the east.  These lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas, and several dozen Tompkins County-designated Unique Natural Areas.  The Emerald Necklace is also recognized as a priority project within New York State’s Open Space Plan.

The new addition to Danby State Forest will protect steeply sloping woodlands bordering the Willseyville Valley in the upper right of this photo. Photo courtesy of Bill Hecht.

To date, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has worked cooperatively with the NYSDEC to conserve 11 parcels within the Emerald Necklace, including key additions to Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area and Yellow Barn State Forest.

Learn more about Danby State Forest, as well as other destinations for outdoor recreation within the Finger Lakes region, at gofingerlakes.org – a new web site created as a public service by the Land Trust.  Go Finger Lakes features 58 mapped locations with over 650 miles of trails to help you find your next outdoor adventure.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 20,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust owns and manages a network of nature preserves that are open to the public and holds conservation easements that protect lands remaining in private ownership.

The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and lands that are 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 and the region’s unique natural resources.

The Land Trust works across 12 counties that include all 11 Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier.  Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at fllt.org.