Courtesy of Finger Lakes Land Trust

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced the acquisition of 80-acres off Eastman Hill Road in the Town of Danby on Tuesday.

The property borders Danby State Forest and is also adjacent to private property protected by a Land Trust conservation easement and two parcels of land previously acquired by the Land Trust, the organization said in a release. Taken together, the Land Trust has protected 500 acres in the area.

“Acquisition of this land adds to publicly accessible open space at a time when more and more people are getting out to visit our parks and conservation areas,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We are right now seeing a high level of public use of these lands across the entire Finger Lakes region.”

Protection of this parcel will also safeguard additional wildlife habitat within the Emerald Necklace, an ambitious effort to link 50,000 acres of existing public open space that extends in an arc around Ithaca – from Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests in the east, says the Land Trust. These lands host 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas, and several dozen Tompkins County-designated Unique Natural Areas. The Emerald Necklace is also recognized as a priority project within New York State’s Open Space Plan.

The Land Trust 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 use. The organization also provides programs to educate local governement, landowners and residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.

The Land Trust owns and manages a network of 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 147 properties that remain in private ownership.