ITHACA, N.Y. — The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced Tuesday, May 21, it has acquired 20 acres along Owego Creek adjacent to its Goetchius Wetland Preserve. The property is located on Flat Iron Road in the town of Caroline, Tompkins County. The addition will protect over 3,000 feet of streambank along the West Branch of Owego Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River.
The property has a mix of wetlands and meadows and features panoramic vistas of neighboring Hammond Hill and Robinson Hollow State Forests. As a former agricultural site, this preserve addition provides an opportunity to restore grazed wetlands, thereby enhancing habitat for wetland-dependent migratory birds. Protection of the property will also improve water quality in Owego Creek and further downstream in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
This project is the latest of eleven completed by the Land Trust in the Owego Creek watershed, where it has already protected nearly 850 acres. Owego Creek is one of the Finger Lakes region’s premiere trout streams. The headwaters support a native brook trout population and provide critical juvenile rearing habitat. Accordingly, Owego Creek has priority conservation status with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The acquisition was completed with multiple partners including the Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) and Tompkins County’s Capital Reserve Fund for Natural, Scenic, and Recreation Resource Protection. The Land Trust is developing a management plan in partnership with the USC which will include extensive plantings of native trees and shrubs to restore a buffer to the creek. Long-term management goals for the site include restoration and maintenance of streamside wetlands, forests, and wet meadows.
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 22,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The Land Trust owns and manages a network of over 30 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 138 properties that remain in private ownership.
The 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.
Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at www.fllt.org. Information on the region’s premiere destinations for outdoor recreation may be found at www.gofingerlakes.org, a resource created by the Land Trust to encourage people to get outdoors.
Featured image: West Owego Creek. (Courtesy of Finger Lakes Land Trust.)