The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced it was awarded $2 million in state grant funding through New York State’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP). The WQIP program funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source.
A total of $1.4 million was awarded for land conservation and restoration efforts on several parcels within the Skaneateles Lake watershed. The Land Trust will use the funds to permanently protect approximately 300 acres using a combination of land acquisition and conservation easements. Plans to restore wetland areas and create streamside buffers will contribute to drinking water protection within the watershed.
The Land Trust also received $641,000 to place perpetual conservation easements and restore streamside buffers on three parcels in the Six Mile Creek watershed, the City of Ithaca’s drinking water supply. This project will result in 300 acres of permanently protected lands, including 125 acres in the town of Caroline, Tompkins County, which includes several thousand feet of frontage on Six Mile Creek.
The funds come at a critical time for the Finger Lakes region, which has seen an increasing number of toxic algae outbreaks. Outbreaks threaten human health and pet health, as well as the region's tourism economy. As development pressure increases, the Land Trust is working to counter these threats by saving sensitive lands, buffering our streams, creating new wetlands, and protecting our last undeveloped shorelines.
“We are grateful for this commitment by the state, said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “This funding will allow us to conserve lands that are vital for water quality while also supporting the restoration of streams and wetlands.”
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 Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 20,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The Land Trust owns and manages a network of nature preserves that are open to the public and holds conservation easements that protect lands remaining in private ownership.
The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and lands that are important for water quality, connecting conserved 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.
The Land Trust works across 12 counties that include 11 Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier. Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at fllt.org.