NEWFIELD, N.Y.— 43 acres of land in the Town of Newfield in Tompkins County, just south of Ithaca, has been purchased with federal grant money by Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) and transferred to The Wetland Trust, Inc., another land trust, to permanently protect water quality.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), a nonprofit organization focused on conserving land, acquired the property using a portion of a $921,000 grant it was awarded by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from the state’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) program in Dec. 2018.
The DEC released a statement announcing the purchase and subsequent conservation efforts.
The land includes more than 5,000 feet of underdeveloped frontage on the Cayuga Inlet, as well as wetlands that filter runoff to the inlet and Cayuga Lake. Securing trusting ownership of the property helps prevent development that would, as written in the statement, “disrupt critical buffers along the inlet” and adds to a growing network of conserved lands in the area. These natural buffers made of vegetation that exist along streams and wetlands are “particularly important,” according to the statement, “as they can filter and absorb pollutants from stormwater” that could otherwise enter drinking water sources.
The trust already owns two nature preserves that border the inlet, including the Tapan Mitra Preserve in Ithaca and the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in West Danby.
After FLLT closed on the property, the organization then transferred ownership to The Wetland Trust, Inc. (TWT), another nonprofit land trust organization working on protecting the land, with a deed restriction attached to protect the water quality in the inlet. A deed restriction limits how a property owner can utilize their property.
A top priority for the DEC is safeguarding drinking water sources, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in the statement.
“By working with partners like the Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Westland Land Trust, the DEC is safeguarding a drinking water source and a key natural buffer along Cayuga inlet for generations to come,” Seggos said in the statement.
The WQIP program is a reimbursement grant program created by the state that funds projects directly related to improving water quality or aquatic habitat, promoting flood risk reduction, restoration, and enhanced flood and climate resilience. Or, to protect drinking water sources, according to the DEC website. At least $78 million is currently available for distribution in the grant program.
The program has awarded $65 million for 51 land acquisition projects to date, according to the the DEC.