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Finger Lakes Land Trust protects over 60 acres in Canandaigua Lake watershed

The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) today announced it has permanently protected 63 wooded acres in the town of Middlesex, Yates County with a conservation easement. Owned by Stephen and Jeanette Decker, the property is wholly situated within the Canandaigua Lake watershed and shares 3,751 feet of boundary with New York State’s High Tor Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Containing a small meadow and mixed hardwood forest interspersed with hiking trails, the property is directly adjacent to the 6,800-acre WMA which spans portions of Ontario and Yates counties. Conserving lands in this area helps maintain the integrity of Canandaigua Lake’s watershed by securing steep slopes that are highly susceptible to erosion.

The conservation easement will prohibit subdivision of the property while allowing for selective timber harvesting and other traditional uses. A portion of project costs for the easement was donated by the Deckers, with remaining expenses covered by an anonymous donor.

“The water that starts out on our land eventually reaches the West River and Canandaigua Lake,” said Jeanette Decker. “Who better than us and the Finger Lakes Land Trust to help protect the watershed?”

This is the 14th conservation project completed by the FLLT in the vicinity of High Tor WMA. Other protected lands in the area include the organization’s West River Preserve, Great Hill Preserve (Nundawao), Canandaigua Highlands Overlook, and four parcels transferred to New York State as additions to the WMA, including the northern half of Conklin Gully.

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that permanently limit future land use in order to protect the land’s conservation value. Lands subject to conservation easements remain in private ownership, on local tax rolls, and available for traditional uses such as farming and hunting.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 28,0000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The FLLT owns and manages a network of over 45 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 168 properties that remain in private ownership.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The FLLT 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 residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.

Information on the region’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation—including High Tor Wildlife Management Area—may be found at, a resource created by the FLLT to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at

The conservation easement adds to a growing network of conserved lands at the south end of Canandaigua Lake. Photo by Bill Hecht