The following is a republished press release from the Finger Lakes Land Trust and NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements directly to The Voice, email

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Finger Lakes Land Trust today announced that it added 15 acres of forest with a rugged gorge to its Van Riper Conservation Area and adjacent Whitlock Nature Preserve on the western shore of Cayuga Lake.  With this latest addition, the preserve now spans over 96 acres of diverse wildlife habitats.

The parcel is situated uphill from the existing preserve, which is located on both sides of State Route 89 in the town of Romulus, Seneca County.  The new property features mature forest as well as 1,600 feet of frontage on a tributary to Cayuga Lake.  Acquisition of the land helps ensure water quality in Cayuga Lake, protects high quality wildlife habitat, and maintains the rural character of a landscape bordering the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.

Photo courtesy of Bill Hecht

Together, the VanRiper and Whitlock Preserves protect 1,900 feet of pristine shoreline and host a diversity of wildlife habitats including mature woodlands, meadows, and a rugged gorge.  A hiking trail provides visitors with easy access to the shore of Cayuga Lake.  Elsewhere in the Cayuga Lake watershed, the Land Trust has protected approximately 4,000 acres of open space through direct acquisition as well as the use of perpetual conservation easements on land that remains in private ownership.

Funding for the purchase came from the Land Trust’s recent Shoreline to Summit capital campaign. During the coming year, the Land Trust will develop a management plan for the new property that will provide for appropriate public access while ensuring the protection of sensitive habitats. 

By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected more than 19,000 acres of our region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland.  The Land Trust owns and manages a network of nature preserves that are open to the public and holds conservation easements that protect lands remaining in private ownership.

The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat and lands that are important for water quality, connecting conserved lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and local residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.

The Land Trust works across 12 counties that include all 11 Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier.  Additional information on the Land Trust may be found at