Beavers & Biodiversity

Photo: Lang Elliott

Beavers at Work on the Lindsay-Parsons Preserve

See how beavers have shaped the wetlands at our biodiversity preserve south of Ithaca.

Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve is owned and managed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust as the world’s first temperate-zone preserve for research in biodiversity and chemical ecology.  Scientists and students at Cornell University have used the preserve to study the chemical interactions of organisms there.

Owing to the size and diversity of this preserve, it is ideal for use by area colleges and schools for different educational purposes.  In addition, the preserve may be used by the public for hiking, skiing, birding, and nature walks.  It also provides a place for quiet contemplation.

To find other outdoor adventures near Lindsay-Parsons, see the interactive map.

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Do you have great videos or photos of wildlife in the Finger Lakes?

Want to share with the Land Trust?

Please email us at gofingerlakes@fllt.org.

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Finger Lakes Trail

Photo: Robert Teitelbaum

Over 950 Miles Long and Covering Some of the Most Scenic Land in New York

Since 1962, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference has worked to build a continuous footpath across New York State.

Here on Gofingerlakes.org, you can learn about the following locations which contain portions of the Finger Lakes Trail.

The Finger Lakes Trail system runs from Allegheny State Park on the Pennsylvania border to the Catskill Forest Preserve, with branch trails to Niagara Falls, the Genesee River valley, the Great Eastern Trail, the central Finger Lakes, and the Syracuse region.  This system is built and maintained almost entirely by volunteers.  The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) invites you to hike the trail and volunteer to keep it beautiful; see their site for maps and tools.

See some of our Favorite Hikes on the Finger Lakes Trail.

Happy exploring!

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Lakes & Streams

Photo: Chuck Feil

PART OF OUR REGIONAL CONSERVATION AGENDA

Protect Our Lakes, Streams & Drinking Water

Theme 1 from our report on strategies for permanently protecting the priceless lands and waters of the Finger Lakes region

Here we share the first set of strategies from Lakes, Farms, and Forests Forever, our fully illustrated report which you can find on our web site at fllt.org/top10.

The eleven Finger Lakes are the lifeblood of the region.  They provide drinking water for one million residents while attracting tourists from around the world.  The lakes define local culture and traditions, creating bonds among families and communities that are cherished for a lifetime.

The lakes have long been known for their clean waters. In recent years, however, nutrient-laden runoff, exacerbated by a warming climate, has resulted in declining water quality.  Five of eleven lakes reported significant outbreaks of toxic algae in 2015 — resulting in health alerts warning against swimming and drinking the impacted water.  Toxic algae can cause nausea; skin, eye, and throat irritation; and breathing difficulties.  It is harmful for wildlife, pets, and humans.

Today, the stakes are high to save our remaining pristine lakeshore as development pressures increase. Soil erosion from farm fields and contamination from lakeshore septic systems both increase the likelihood of future toxic algal blooms. All 11 lakes are at risk. Let’s save our lakes by aggressively countering these threats.

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The conservation strategies in this theme:

Buffer Our Streams & Create New Wetlands

Create permanent streamside buffers on farms and other lands that directly affect water quality for towns and cities across the region. Support a systematic effort to restore and create wetlands to filter runoff and protect our waters while providing valuable wildlife habitat.

Save Our Last Undeveloped Shoreline Now

Protect our last wild shoreline through the acquisition of parks and conservation land as well as the use of conservation easements (perpetual legal agreements that limit development while keeping land in private ownership).

Protect the City of Syracuse Drinking Water Supply

Restore the successful program that used conservation easements to secure environmentally sensitive lands adjacent to Skaneateles Lake, the primary drinking water supply for Syracuse residents.

What you can do

If you love the Finger Lakes region, please take a moment to read Lakes, Farms, and Forests Forever.  You can download a digital copy at fllt.org/top10 and request free print copies.  Please share with friends who love our lands and waters, and consider supporting the Finger Lakes Land Trust by becoming a member and getting involved at our events and volunteer opportunities.

Get your copy of our top 10 conservation strategies for the Finger Lakes!

fllt.org/top10 Sign Up

Trail Etiquette

Photo: Chris Olney

How to Be a Good Traveler on Your Nature Outings

Land trails and waterways are shared by people, animals, and plants – and human visitors should observe a few best practices.

The locations featured on Gofingerlakes.org are owned and managed by various organizations; please follow the regulations at each location.  Also see our page about safety and disclaimers.  Generally, at all locations, a good maxim for visiting protected natural areas is found on Finger Lakes Land Trust signs:

Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Here are other best practices for your outdoor adventures.

Hikers and bikers

As a general rule, bikers should yield to hikers, and both must yield to equestrians (see below).  On trails where mountain biking and hiking are permitted, it is important for bikers and hikers to be aware of their surroundings.  This is especially true for bikers racing down steep descents and around sharp turns.  Here, the hiker has the right of way, and bikers must pay close attention to the trail ahead.

However, as with all rules, there are some grey areas.  If a biker is riding up a steep hill and a hiker is walking down, the friendly thing for the hiker to do is step off the trail and let the biker pass.

Horses

Equestrians always get the right-of-way.  If you are on the trail and see a horse approaching, whether you are on foot or bike, stop moving and step aside to give the horse and rider a chance to pass.  Make sure you step fully off the path, on the downhill side if possible, giving the horse plenty of space.  Speak softly to the horse and rider as they approach and do not make any sudden movements when the horse passes.

When approaching a horse and rider from behind, announce your presence from as far away as possible so you don’t startle the horse.  Only pass when the rider says that it is safe.  Dogs should always be leashed and kept as far away from the horse as possible.

Uphill vs. downhill

Generally, downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic.  If you are hiking uphill, you get the right-of-way. Similarly, bikers climbing up the trails get the right-of-way over bikers on their way down.

Dogs

If you bring along your four-legged friends, keeping them leashed and under control is essential for the safety and enjoyment of all.  In many locations it is the official rule, but in all locations it is a best practice.

Pack in, pack out

This one is so obvious that it need not be mentioned.  Except that it needs to be mentioned — because once in a while you still see human garbage laying around a natural area.  Of course, people sometimes leave items by accident, such as water bottles, so do a mental inventory of your belongings and leave the place as clean as you found it — or better!

Collecting

In some locations, collecting fossils and other treasures is expressly forbidden.  But even where there is no posted rule, it’s a great idea to leave nature alone for the enjoyment of those who will come after you.  Even future generations!

No bushwacking

Stay on the marked trails and designated areas.  That’s the best way to stay safe AND avoid trampling delicate plant life and fragile insect homes.  It only takes a few people to casually start a new trail by bushwacking off the main trail, and before you know it a new part of the forest or wetland is getting heavily traveled.  Please let the official land stewards determine where trails should be.

Private property

Many landowners are serious about their private property.  Take a moment to read the local trail signs and get familiar with the lay of the land.  Sometimes, even if you feel like you are on a designated trail, you can wander onto private lands.  Be smart and respect property rights, not least because many private property owners are the key to conservation in the Finger Lakes region — by donating easements and otherwise being good stewards of their own land.

Let’s care for our trails and open new nature preserves!

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Ithaca Trails

Photo: Jeff Katris

Visit ithacatrails.org for lots of trails in Tompkins County.

With over 232 miles of trails, the GPS-enabled site features a searchable map and directions. 

The following Tompkins County natural areas, found on ithacatrails.org, are also mapped and profiled here on Gofingerlakes.org:

For a comprehensive list of all 232 miles of trails in Tompkins County, visit ithacatrails.org.

Funded by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program, the site allows users to search for trails based on the type of experience they are looking for.  It has the flexibility to allow searches for information such as distance, difficulty, dog walking, scenic views and picnicking.

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The project is a partnership of the Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network.  Partner organizations include the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Town of Ulysses, Tompkins County Tourism Program, Tompkins County Planning Department, Ithaca Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, NY State Parks, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Ithaca College Natural Lands, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, Town of Lansing, Town of Dryden, Town of Danby, the Nature Conservancy and user groups like Bike Walk Tompkins, the Cayuga Trails Club, and Finger Lakes Trails Conference.

Happy exploring around beautiful Tompkins County.

Wesley in the West

Photo: Bill Hecht

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Staghorns!

Photo: Bill Hecht

You Can Paddle to the Staghorn Cliffs on the Eastern Shore of Skaneateles Lake

Towering over the eastern shoreline of Skaneateles Lake are the Staghorn Cliffs, named for the ancient coral fossils found along the waterline.  The Finger Lakes Land Trust protects over 1,350 feet of the shoreline at its Cora Kampfe Dickinson Conservation Area, accessible only by boat.

To find other outdoor adventures near the Staghorn Cliffs, see the interactive map.

Do you have great videos or photos of nature in the Finger Lakes?  Want to share with the Land Trust?  If so, please email us at gofingerlakes@fllt.org.

Watch more nature videos on the Land Trust web site!

Go to fllt.org/video Sign Up

Farms & Wineries

Photo: Chuck Feil

PART OF OUR REGIONAL CONSERVATION AGENDA

Save Farms, Wineries & Rural Character

Theme 2 from our report on strategies for permanently protecting the priceless lands and waters of the Finger Lakes region

Here we share the second set of strategies from Lakes, Farms, and Forests Forever, our fully illustrated report which you can find on our web site at fllt.org/top10.

The Finger Lakes region is famous for sweeping expanses of farmland and picturesque lake views.  Millions of tourists flock to the region to explore over 50 farmers markets, 3 wine trails, u-pick apple orchards, and emerging beer and cheese trails.  Drawn by the lakes and agricultural tourism opportunities, visitors and residents alike are charmed by the rural character of our region.

Yet our agricultural land and iconic views are increasingly under threat.  Farmers are challenged by the conversion of land for residential and commercial development — a particular concern for farms that rely on significant amounts of leased land.  We are calling for sustained investment to save the farmland and scenic vistas that are most imperiled by development.  By increasing funding from public and private sources — and providing technical assistance to municipal planning boards — we can preserve our farms, vineyards, and rural character forever.

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The conservation strategies in this theme:

Save Threatened Farms & Wineries

Preserve agricultural lands that are most threatened by development through increased funding for New York State’s farmland protection program.  Investment in this program will also spur economic development by aiding agricultural enterprises.

Protect Scenic Vistas & Designated Byways on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes

Inventory publicly accessible vista points across the region and lands bordering the Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake Scenic Byways.  Secure the highest quality vistas and lands through the acquisition of conservation easements.

Maintain Rural Character Through Stronger Land Use Planning

Strengthen locally-based land use planning by providing increased technical assistance to town planning boards and producing a region-specific guide to best practices for rural land use.

What you can do

If you love the Finger Lakes region, please take a moment to read Lakes, Farms, and Forests Forever.  You can download a digital copy at fllt.org/top10 and request free print copies.  Please share with friends who love our lands and waters, and consider supporting the Finger Lakes Land Trust by becoming a member and getting involved with our events and volunteer opportunities.

Get your copy of our top 10 conservation strategies for the Finger Lakes!

fllt.org/top10 Sign Up

Lick Brook Snow

Photo: FLLT

A Quiet Winter Morning on Lick Brook at Thayer Preserve

Beautiful Lick Brook, at the southern side of Ithaca, runs through two Finger Lakes Land Trust conservation areas.  Sweedler Preserve contains the dramatic gorge and high falls that many people have discovered off of Route 13 across from Robert Treman State Park.  Thayer Preserve, portrayed in this short winter vignette, connects to Buttermilk Falls State Park.

To find other outdoor adventures near Lick Brook, see the interactive map.

Do you have great videos or photos of nature in the Finger Lakes?  Want to share with the Land Trust?  If so, please email us at gofingerlakes@fllt.org.

Watch more nature videos on the Land Trust web site!

Go to fllt.org/video Sign Up

Steege on Chemung

Photo: Bill Hecht

See Steege Hill High Above the Chemung River Valley

At 793 acres of conserved land, Steege Hill Nature Preserve offers miles of forested hiking trails and plenty of solitude.  See Steege Hill in early fall colors and learn a little about the history in this short by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

To find other outdoor adventures near Steege Hill, see the interactive map.

Do you have great videos or photos of nature in the Finger Lakes?  Want to share with the Land Trust?  If so, please email us at gofingerlakes@fllt.org.

Watch more nature videos on the Land Trust web site!

Go to fllt.org/video Sign Up