DANBY, N.Y. — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced the completion of a 144-acre addition to Danby State Forest, including approximately one mile of the Finger Lakes Trail in the town of Danby, Tompkins County.
“This acquisition is the result of a collaborative approach between the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, Finger Lakes Land Trust, and DEC. The acquisition protects the Finger Lakes Trail, and in doing so connects people and wildlife to adjacent lands across the landscape,” said DEC Region 7 Director Matthew Marko.
Acquisition of this parcel permanently protects a segment of the 585-mile Finger Lakes Trail, improving accessibility and safety by eliminating a road walk portion, and will enhance other trail systems and recreation opportunities on Danby State Forest. Protection of the property additionally ensures wildlife habitat continuity, identified as a priority in the Rapid Waters Unit Management Plan and Tompkins County 2007 Countywide Conservation Plan.
Danby State Forest is situated within the Emerald Necklace, a proposed greenbelt linking 50,000 acres of existing conservation land in an arc around Ithaca, from the Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to the Hammond Hill State Forest in the east. Together, these lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Areas, numerous Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserves and Conservation Easements, several State Forests and Parks, and dozens of Tompkins County-designated Unique Natural Areas. The Emerald Necklace is also recognized as a priority project within New York State’s Open Space Plan.
“This is a great addition to the growing network of conserved lands in the Emerald Necklace,” said Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp. “We’re grateful for the commitment of the state and Finger Lakes Trail Conference on this project. We simply couldn’t have done it without them.”
DEC purchased the parcel from Finger Lakes Land Trust in 2018 for $184,100 through the Environmental Protection Fund. The Land Trust purchased the parcel from a private land owner in 2017 with a loan from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference Sidote Stewardship Fund and a grant from the Tompkins County Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and Recreational Resource Protection.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife, conserving lands that are important for water quality, connecting existing conservation 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.
Danby State Forest encompasses 7,651 acres in the town of Danby, Tompkins County and the towns of Candor and Spencer, Tioga County, and protects portions of the Cayuga Lake and Susquehanna River watersheds. The forest offers diverse topography and habitats, and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities including hiking, camping, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
More information about Danby State Forest is available on the DEC website.
Featured image: Danby State Forest by Melanie Sauer from reader gallery “Fall photos of Ithaca and Tompkins County.”