The Finger Lakes Land Trust recently renamed its Cayuga Inlet Conservation Area in Ithaca as the Tapan Mitra Preserve in honor of the late Dr. Tapan Mitra, a leading economic theorist and long-serving Cornell professor.
Dr. Mitra’s professional accomplishments shaped both his discipline and his department. His commitment to colleagues and students rivaled only his concern for the environment. “How a society uses up natural resources currently can have enormous effects on the well-being of future generations of that society, including generations still unborn,” he stated in a 2016 article.
During his life, Dr. Mitra collaborated with the Land Trust to identify key priorities of the organization as a part of his estate planning process. He was inspired by the experience of local math teacher and Land Trust member, Dave Bock, whose family donated what is now the Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve in Enfield. This collaboration led to a $200,000 bequest, which was administered by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.
“Dr. Mitra’s charitable gift to permanently preserve natural areas is an outstanding example of one of many ways local people choose to use their charitable resources to improve our quality of life in Tompkins County. Community Foundation is honored to uphold his philanthropic intention to the benefit of residents and visitors alike,” said George Ferrari, Community Foundation CEO
The Tapan Mitra Preserve protects one mile of streambank along the Cayuga Lake Inlet and a short but critical section of the Finger Lakes Trail. It borders over 2,000 acres of previously conserved lands, including a Cornell Botanic Gardens natural area and Robert H. Treman State Park, which connects through the Land Trust’s Lick Brook Gorge preserves to Buttermilk Falls State Park. This network is a popular destination for residents and visitors, and is accessible by bus from the Cornell campus.
Protection of the lands around the south end of Cayuga Lake continues to be a top priority for the Land Trust, and is facilitated by generations of conservation-minded Ithacans.
The bequest will be placed in the Land Trust’s “Opportunity Fund,” a revolving, internal loan fund that supports timely acquisitions on projects where interim funding is critical. Two recent projects completed with support from the Opportunity Fund include 12 acres bordering the popular Black Diamond Trail in Ithaca that will be transferred to New York State Parks in the coming year and approximately 200 acres in the Chemung River Valley to be added to the state’s Big Flats Wildlife Management Area.
“The Finger Lakes Land Trust has a distinguished track record of protecting and improving the natural beauty of this region. When he decided to support the Opportunity Fund, my uncle was thrilled to play a small role in permanently expanding the Land Trust’s capacity to further its mission in a region he deeply cared for and called his home for almost forty years,” said Aveek Majumdar, his nephew.
“The Tapan Mitra Preserve is a jewel in the Emerald Necklace, named to honor Dr. Mitra’s thoughtfulness and generosity,” asserted Executive Director, Andy Zepp. “It is our hope that through Dr. Mitra’s bequest, his memory will forever be associated with the natural areas for which Ithaca and the Finger Lakes are renowned. In that way, his legacy will benefit our community long into the future.”
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 23,000 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.
Additional information about the Community Foundation may be found at www.cftompkins.org.
Featured image: The Tapan Mitra Preserve. (Photo by Betsy Darlington, courtesy of the Finger Lakes Land Trust)