Easement protects land near High Tor Wildlife Area

Julie Sherwood
Philip Cusick bought this property in 2006 from his sister, Carol Cusick Fenton, and brother-in-law, Thomas P. Fenton, who had owned the property since the 1970s. Cusick recently donated the 181 acres to the Finger Lakes Land Trust for a conservation easement.

A donation by a Connecticut resident and seasonal visitor to the Finger Lakes will preserve 181 acres surrounding the state High Tor Wildlife Management Area near Canandaigua Lake in Yates County.

The conservation easement Philip Cusick donated to the Finger Lakes Land Trust will preserve the woodlands sharing 2,385 feet of boundary with High Tor — a protected area of 6,100 acres of public conservation land.

“This is a wonderful gift,” stated Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp in a release announcing the donation. “Protection of this land will secure a large contiguous block of wildlife habitat while also helping ensure Canandaigua Lake’s water quality.”

The project is the 10th for the Land Trust in the vicinity of High Tor. Earlier ones included acquisition of the northern half of Conklin Gully — a popular destination for hikers — along with acquisition of frontage on the West River, a destination for fishers and paddlers.

In addition, the Land Trust’s partnership with the town of South Bristol established Carolabarb Park, known for its scenic overlook, just west of the wildlife management area.

In the latest effort, the conservation easement agreement will prohibit subdivision of the land while allowing for the construction of a single home on the property as well as agricultural use and the selective harvest of timber.

Cusick bought the property in 2006 from his sister, Carol Cusick Fenton, and his brother-in-law, Thomas P. Fenton, who had owned the property since the 1970s. Carol and Tom planted trees, created open spaces and hiking trails, and for many years enjoyed the ever-evolving beauty of their hill-top property, the Land Trust stated.

Cusick donated the easement in honor of Carol and Tom and named it the “Fenton Easement.”

The donation marks the 114th easement held by the Land Trust and adds to the more than 16,000 acres already protected by the organization in the region. Those lands include undeveloped shoreline, scenic farmland, rugged gorges and forest. The organization owns and manages 35 conservation areas that are accessible to the public and holds conservation easements on more than 100 properties that remain in private ownership, and on the local tax rolls.

For more information, visit www.fllt.org.

By the numbers

181 Acres donated in latest easement

2,385 Feet of boundary land shared with High Tor

16,000 Total acres protected by Finger Lakes Land Trust

SOURCE: Finger Lakes Land Trust