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For Release: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DEC Acquires 87 Acres in Tompkins County from the Finger Lakes Land Trust

Property Will Be Added To Yellow Barn State Forest

Through a partnership with the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) acquired 87 acres of land in the town of Dryden, Tompkins County, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The project connects two existing state forests, extending the so-called Emerald Necklace of protected lands around Ithaca, a priority in the state's open space plan.

"This purchase demonstrates the importance of the working collaboratively with non-profits in the local community who share common goals with DEC," said Commissioner Martens. "With the assistance of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, an important corridor linking two DEC-owned properties will now be open to everyone in the state for recreational enjoyment."

DEC acquired the land north and west of Irish Settlement Road for $192,400, which was paid for from the Environmental Protection Fund. In 2010, the FLLT purchased a 169-acre tract of land from Rex Berntsson and Mary Kay Miller. FLLT held a portion of this land acquisition for sale to DEC. The FLLT retained the property south and east of Irish Settlement Road as an addition to its Roy H. Park Land Preserve. The DEC land purchase is located on the eastern side of Yellow Barn State Forest and allows the state to connect Yellow Barn State Forest and Hammond Hill State Forest.

The land is a mix of northern hardwoods, white pine and young early successional habitat. There are also some wetlands and a tributary to Six Mile Creek on the land. For 22 years, the property had been enrolled in the 480-a Forest Tax Law Program, a program that provides a tax reduction in return for property owners managing their forest lands via a management plan written by a forester. The valuable wildlife property will continue to be managed as a working forest providing forest products, watershed protection and habitat.

"We're delighted to work in partnership with the State and others to secure this first link in the Emerald Necklace Greenbelt," said Andrew Zepp, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. "This is a great example of a public-private partnership that is resulting in the conservation of significant wildlife habitat, enhanced access for public recreation, and the protection of a public drinking water supply."

The acquisition will provide additional recreational opportunities for the public. The FLLT raised funds to build a universally accessible boardwalk and a mile-long hiking trail to link the Roy H. Park Land Preserve to Hammond Hill State Forest. Support for that portion of the project included a grant from the NYS Conservation Partnership Program, and financial contributions from Tompkins County, the Town of Dryden, City of Ithaca, Cornell University and a variety of private sources.

Yellow Barn State Forest and Hammond Hill State Forest will be managed via the Twin Sheds Unit Management Plan. DEC approved a draft of the plan in 2013 and a final plan is expected to be approved early next year.

Information on Yellow Barn State Forest and information on Hammond Hill State Forest are available on the DEC's website.

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