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DEC, Finger Lakes Land Trust will protect 43 acres in Newfield along Cayuga Lake

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

In a concerted conservation effort, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), and The Wetland Trust, Inc. (TWT) announced the permanent protection of 43 acres in the town of Newfield, Tompkins County, situated just south of Ithaca. Funded in part through the state’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program, the acquisition aids in enhancing water quality, promoting flood risk reduction and climate resiliency, and safeguarding a crucial drinking water source.

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“Protecting water quality is a top priority for DEC and our land trust partners throughout New York State,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos expressed. He highlighted the importance of partnerships like the ones with the FLLT and the Wetland Land Trust in safeguarding a critical natural buffer along Cayuga Inlet for future generations. FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp further emphasized the acquisition’s role in preserving water quality within Cayuga Lake and securing vital habitat for fish and wildlife.

The acquisition was facilitated by a portion of a $921,000 WQIP grant awarded by DEC in December 2018. Post-acquisition, the property was handed over to TWT with a deed restriction that curtails land use to protect water quality in the inlet. The preserved area features over 5,000 feet of undeveloped frontage on the Cayuga Inlet and includes wetlands that filter runoff to the inlet and Cayuga Lake.

The land’s protection ensures the prevention of development that could disrupt critical buffers along the inlet. These natural vegetated buffers along streams and wetlands are essential for filtering and absorbing pollutants from stormwater that could otherwise enter the water body. This conservation step also adds to an expanding network of preserved lands in the area, including two nature preserves owned by FLLT—the Tapan Mitra Preserve in Ithaca and the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in West Danby.