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New lands added to High Tor

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

86 acres offer extensive hiking trails, watershed protection, and critical wildlife habitats 

YATES COUNTY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced the State’s acquisition of the 86-acre Parker Trust property, which will be added to the High Tor Wildlife Management Area in Yates County. The addition supports DEC’s ongoing efforts to enhance wildlife habitat, strengthen regional watershed protections, and increase access for wildlife-related recreational opportunities such as hunting, trapping, fishing, and wildlife viewing that bolster the local economy.

86 acres have been added to the High Tor Wildlife Management Area in the Town of Italy.

“New York State is committed to enhancing recreational opportunities and connecting New Yorkers with nature, protecting Finger Lakes region water quality, and improving habitat for wildlife,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In partnership with the Finger Lakes Land Trust, this property is a great addition to the High Tor Wildlife Management Area.”

“We are delighted once again to have the opportunity to partner with DEC to expand this popular wildlife management area,” said Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “This is the fourth cooperative acquisition project we have completed here, and this latest addition features mature forest and extensive road frontage. By adding it to High Tor, we are securing significant wildlife habitat, enhancing public access, and helping to maintain Canandaigua Lake’s water quality.”

The DEC purchased the Parker Trust parcel for $171,300 utilizing federal Pittman-Robertson Act funds. The newly acquired parcel contains extensive trail networks running through forestland and meadows and past ponds, streams, and wetlands. DEC previously identified the land as a regional conservation priority.

The new parcel will be incorporated into management plans for the High Tor Wildlife Management Area to ensure that use is in compliance with the Pittman-Robertson Act and DEC regulations pertaining to the use of state wildlife management areas. Enacted in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act established an excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to pay for restoration, land acquisition, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-related recreation programs.

This WMA consists of approximately 6,800 acres of numerous ecological habitats with many steep wooded hills, gullies, eroded cliffs, and wetlands. The area offers a variety of wildlife, including game species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit, grey squirrel, waterfowl, muskrat, raccoon, mink, and beaver. High Tor Wildlife Management Area is a designated Bird Conservation Area. Conifer stands, emergent marshes, and large blocks of forest provide habitat for a number of threatened species and species of concern, including the pied-billed grebe, bald eagle, least bittern, American bittern, northern goshawk, and Cooper’s hawk. For more information about the High Tor Wildlife Management Area, go to DEC’s website.