Finger Lakes Land Trust acquires 4,000 feet of Cayuga Lake shoreline

Finger Lakes Land Trust
An aerial view of the Sims Tract with 4,000 feet of frontage on Cayuga Lake, recently acquired by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

FINGER LAKES — The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) announced it has acquired 200 acres featuring 4,000 feet of shoreline on the east side of Cayuga Lake in the town of Lansing, Tompkins County. Conserving the property – located directly across from Taughannock Falls State Park – safeguards an important viewshed for the region, creates new recreation opportunities, and helps protect the lake’s water quality by prohibiting development on its steep slopes.

The view of the Sims Tract from Taughannock Falls State Park. The acquisition protects this viewshed from development.
The view of Taughannock Point, seen from the Cayuga cliffs on the Sims Tract.

The diverse property features meadows, woodlands, gorges, waterfalls, and panoramic lake views from several locations. Pitch pine and red cedar trees stand above exposed ledges while mature hardwood forest covers a prominent ridge overlooking the lake. Multiple creeks and streams flow through hemlock studded gorges on their way to Cayuga Lake.

The shoreline is part of a National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area and the property contains substantial portions of two county-designated Unique Natural Areas: Lake Cliffs North of Myers Point and Hidden Glens.

The FLLT plans to establish a public nature preserve on the property for low-impact uses including hiking, cross-country skiing, and wildlife observation. The organization also plans to work in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore small wetlands and vernal pools, improving wildlife habitat and water quality. It is anticipated that the property will be formally opened to the public sometime in 2023.

In addition to the 200-acre purchase, the FLLT worked with landowners William and Jean Sims to secure a donation of a conservation easement on an adjacent 41 acres that will buffer the preserve. Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. The Sims also generously agreed to sell the 200 acres for less than its appraised value.

“This is a tremendous win for Cayuga Lake and everyone who has ever admired the scenic views from Taughannock Falls State Park,” said FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We are grateful to the Sims family for their commitment to the land as well as the strong community support for this project.”

The FLLT received $327,475 in grant funding from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP), $100,000 from Tompkins County’s Natural Infrastructure Capital Program, and many generous individual contributions in support of this project. To contribute to the ongoing fundraising campaign to raise $854,950, please contact Senior Director Kelly Makosch at 607-275-9487 or kellymakosch@fllt.org or give online at fllt.org/cayugacliffs.

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 26,500 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 160 properties that remain in private ownership.

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 may be found at www.gofingerlakes.org, a resource created by the FLLT to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at www.fllt.org.