The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced Thursday the completion of two conservation easement agreements allowing the group to protect 628 acres within the Skaneateles Lake watershed.
The agreements ensure the property, which is owned by Heather and Dennis Birdsall and is within four miles of approximately 4,000 acres of protected land including two Land Trust preserves, is permanently protected from being subdivided as residential development spreads along the lake, according to a release from the trust.
Located along state Route 41 and Ripley Hill Road, the Birdsall Farm, a beef cattle farm, is entirely inside the lake's watershed, and the headwaters of the Grout Brook tributary run, making it a prime target for conservation.
"Protection of this farm is particularly important because of its proximity to Skaneateles Lake and a growing network of conservation land," Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp said. "We're grateful to the Birdsalls for their commitment to the land and we look forward to working with other farmers in this area to conserve more land."
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Recognized with the 2015 Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agriculture Program Environmental Steward of the Year award, the Birdsalls have heavily invested to adopt farming practices to protect water quality given the sensitive nature of the watershed, according to the release.
Funding for the program came from the state's Farmland Protection Implementation Program under the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The Land Trust manages more than 30 nature preserves, hold perpetual conservation easements on 140 properties, and has protected more than 23,000 acres of lakeshore, gorges, forest and farmland.