Skaneateles Lake Staghorn Cliffs

The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced Wednesday it has acquired 900 feet of Skaneateles Lake shoreline known as the Staghorn Cliffs, pictured here, and 90 acres of hillside forest as part of its effort to protect the lake's water quality.

A section of the Staghorn Cliffs on Skaneateles Lake is the latest piece of property acquired by the Finger Lakes Land Trust as part of an effort to create a "greenbelt" around the lake to protect water quality, the agency announced Wednesday.

With partial funding from the state Water Quality Improvement Project, the Trust acquired 900 feet of Skaneateles Lake shoreline and 90 acres of forested hillside in the town of Spafford. The property also includes 4,600 feet of frontage on the Barber Gulf tributary, according to a release.

"This is a great acquisition for Skaneateles Lake and everyone who relies on it for drinking water," Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp said. "We're grateful that New York state is taking action to support projects like this."

According to the release, the property was identified as a priority for part of the trust's project to create a strip of protected land around the lake's south end.

That project, called the greenbelt, is a priority project within the state's Open Space Plan, and is also recognized by the National Audubon Society as one of the state's Important Bird areas, according to the release.

The portion of Staghorn Cliffs the Trust has acquired serves as a habitat for, among other wildlife, bald eagles and the cerulean warbler.

In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Trust will begin creating a wetland to enhance wildlife habitat and retain storm water runoff within the acquisition.

The Water Quality Improvement Project, a program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, funds projects that address water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source such as Skaneateles Lake.

Last December, the trust similarly acquired six acres of donated land in the towns of Niles and Sempronius near Bear Swamp State Forest.

More information on the Finger Lakes Land Trust and its projects is available at fllt.org.

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