ITHACA, N.Y. —The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced it has accepted the donation of a perpetual conservation easement from Florida resident Creighton Brown that will forever conserve 62 forested acres in the town of Caroline, Tompkins County. The property is adjacent to Shindagin Hollow State Forest as well as other private land already protected through a Land Trust conservation easement.
Creighton inherited the land from his parents and remembers planting many of the conifer plantations on the property and playing among the saplings of an emerging hardwood forest during his childhood. Today, the conifer trees tower over the property creating a cathedral-like setting in some areas. In other areas, the mixed hardwood forest provides habitat for many nesting birds and includes populations of pink lady slipper orchids.
The property is part of a forest block that spans nearly 6,000 acres of conserved woods – including the state forest and three properties secured through Land Trust easements. Shindagin Hollow State Forest hosts a segment of the Finger Lakes Trail that is popular with hikers as well as a 19-mile network of mountain bike trails.
The property is also located in the heart of the Emerald Necklace – 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.
Transaction costs associated with the project were covered by a special Tompkins County grant program. “The Natural Infrastructure Capital Program provides funding to protect natural systems that can help mitigate adverse impacts to climate change,” says Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning and Sustainability Katie Borgella. “This important project in the town of Caroline will help achieve that vision.”
“This latest addition to the Emerald Necklace is a wonderful example of how conservation easements can be used to ensure the integrity of our rural landscapes, while allowing the land to remain in private ownership,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We’re grateful to Mr. Brown for his commitment to the land, and to our partners at Tompkins County for their support of this project.”
Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 24,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The Land Trust owns and manages a network of over 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 141 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.
Featured photo courtesy of Chris Ray