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For Release: Thursday, May 17, 2018

DEC Announces $214,800 Acquisition of Property in Skaneateles Lake Watershed

Land Preservation Protects Water Quality and Enhances Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation

147-Acre Property to be Added to Bear Swamp State Forest in Cayuga County

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Matthew Marko today announced the acquisition of 147 acres of land in the Skaneateles Lake watershed. The purchase was made possible through a partnership with the Finger Lakes Land Trust with funds from the State's Environmental Protection Fund, at a cost of $214,800.

"Acquisition of the Tucker parcel protects this property from potential development, ensures the integrity of the landscape, and promotes conservation of water quality, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem functions, all while enhancing opportunities for public outdoor recreation," said Regional Director Marko.

The property, known as the Tucker parcel, is a matrix of agricultural fields, mixed-hardwood forest uplands, forested wetlands, and open/shrub wetlands. It lies along the northern boundary of the approximately 3,300-acre Bear Swamp State Forest in the Cayuga County town of Sempronius.

The acquisition ensures the protection of more than 1,600 feet of frontage on the eastern shore of Bear Swamp Creek, including portions of a State-regulated class 2 wetland, part of the nearly 500-acre Bear Swamp Complex, which spans almost 5.5 miles through the towns of Sempronius and Niles. Bear Swamp Creek (a class AA trout stream) and swamp are within the Skaneateles Lake watershed, which provides high quality, unfiltered drinking water for the city of Syracuse.

Skaneateles Lake is one of 12 priority waterbodies that are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $65 million, four-point initiative unveiled in the 2018 State of the State to aggressively combat HABs and protect New York lakes. The increasing frequency and duration of harmful algal blooms threatens drinking water quality and the recreational use of lakes essential to upstate tourism. Skaneateles Lake documented several Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in 2017, and the acquisition of this property is yet another action New York State is taking to safeguard vital water resources.

Finger Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp said, "This is a terrific acquisition that will help maintain water quality within Skaneateles Lake while also conserving critical habitat for fish and wildlife and enhancing opportunities for outdoor recreation. We're grateful for the state's commitment to this project."

The acquisition falls under the Southern Skaneateles Lake Forest and Shoreline Conservation Project, one of the Region 7 priority projects outlined in the 2016 NYS Open Space Conservation Plan. Within the parcel there are historical records of threatened plant species including Northern Bog Aster and Schweinitz's Sedge as noted by the New York Natural Heritage Program. The parcel lies within an area recognized by the National Audubon Society as one of the state's Important Bird Areas, providing essential habitat for breeding, wintering and migratory use. Portions of the parcel will become "working forest" to provide sustainably managed forest products, while other areas will be set aside for protection of water quality and sensitive habitats.

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