Letter from our Executive Director
For more than 50 years, the Central New York Land Trust (CNYLT) has strived to preserve and protect the lands of Upstate New York we all call home. The walk-a-thon that was launched in 1972 became the signature fundraising event for the new organization created specifically to protect natural areas important to the residents of Central New York. Fast forward to 2023 and that commitment remains evident today, something I can positively say I have experienced firsthand during my past 15 months at the Central New York Land Trust. After nearly a 25-year hiatus, we brought back the ever so popular walk-a-thon fundraiser this past April on Earth Day and expect to do the same in coming years. These walks continue to be so important in raising the money needed to protect the nearly 4,000 acres of natural areas we manage today and our ever-growing portfolio of preserved properties.
We are also thankful for the strong show of support we received this past August during our annual dinner event, this year hosted at our Woodchuck Hill Preserve in Manlius with more than 165 guests in attendance. We appreciate the Town of Manlius for their support and approval of the event, Rod Father’s BBQ & Catering who made the event delectably scrumptious, and of course all of our sponsors and friends who
helped make the fundraiser a success. You’ll notice as you scroll through our Autumn Newsletter that we kept busy this year at the CNYLT. Whether we were building bridges, fending off the invasive HWA ‘Hemlock Wooly Adelgid’, partnering with the Onondaga Nation and learning the stories of the Haudenosaunee, to successfully being approved to make the move out to our future CNYLT preserve office in Manlius next April 2024. The story of the Central New York Land Trust remains one of collaboration, commitment, and results. By the end of this year, we expect to have closed on 4 new properties which equates to an additional 700-acres preserved or a nearly 20% increase in acreage added to the CNYLT portfolio. The only way we are successful in what we do is by our members and friends like you continuing to believe in us. I encourage you to visit our www.cnylandtrust.org website at the top of the News & Events section to learn more about our many accomplishments. Additionally, some of your friends‘ accomplishments for conservation excellence, volunteer of the year, and the Richard J. Brickwedde award were also announced at our 2023 annual meeting
Simon Solomon and Maggie Bocsor, Board Member at EverGreen EverBlue
from this past October and can be viewed as well on our website. Finally, I encourage you to peruse our website and read our newly adopted 2024-2028 Strategic Plan which you will find in the lower left-hand corner beneath our
annual financial statements.
Thank you for all you do.
See you on the trails!
Simon Millar Solomon
Pollinator Meadows at High Hickory
by Kendra Pearson
Earlier this fall, we began converting two fields at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary in Spafford to native wildflower meadows. Both fields have been plagued with invasive species that we are attempting to mitigate with organic and sustainable practices. Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship, and myself have been involved in certified organic farming for more than forty years collectively, and we planned on approaching this project with the same organic methods we would employ in any large field.
The meadow adjacent to the parking lot was filled with Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), the tops of which were removed manually in years prior, though stumps and root masses remained. There was also a small population of Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), among many other grasses and naturalized plants that could outcompete our native wildflowers and grasses. We decided to plow under the invasives, tear up the small stumps, and disc the area in preparation for a robust seeding of our native pollinator meadow mix.
The second field had a large population of Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) and Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) along with a smattering of other invasives. We felt that this parcel required an allelopathic cover crop to suppress the weeds, so we planted winter rye (Secale cereale). When sown in the fall, winter rye quickly sends down soil securing roots and creates a green cover over the ground, reducing the chance of erosion. It also makes for a high protein forage for mammals. Our plan is to mow the rye in the summer before it forms a seed head, which should kill back the plant and sow our meadow seed mix next fall.
We have several other fields at High Hickory that are destined to become wildflower meadows. Unfortunately, they are riddled with invasive shrubs. We will be scheduling volunteer work days in the future to begin the arduous process of removing them all. Keep an eye on social media and your email for dates and times if you would like to get involved in this project.
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Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship, Preparing Field One at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary
Native Wildflower and Grass Seed Mix
by Kendra Pearson
Bumble Bee feasting on Mondarda punctata at Pleasant Valley Preserve
One of the wildflowers serving as the backbone of our pollinator meadow mix is Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata), also known as Dotted Horsemint. It has been two years since we seeded the old farm fields at Pleasant Valley with our native pollinator meadow mix. In a crowd of thriving flowers and grasses, Spotted Beebalm has been a real standout for color and bloom longevity.
Monarda punctata reaches heights of up to three feet and is a carefree plant that prefers full sun and well drained soil. Deer do not tend to graze on them, and they have a lovely herbal scent reminiscent of thyme and oregano.
Spotted Beebalm is in the mint family, and mints are preferred by bumblebees, so if you are looking to reward your space with more native pollinators, this plant should help do the trick. The flowers are small, fuzzy, and yellow with maroon spots (punctate). Above and below the blooms are ornate pink to maroon bracts, which give the entire stem a showy display for pollinators to find, and provide a beautiful color palate for your garden.
Dotted Horsemint is high in thymol, which is antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. This may aid in the wintertime survival of native bees by keeping their nests free from varroa mites. In fact, many apiarists in Europe have forsaken traditional synthetic chemical mite treatment for thymol, which studies in Switzerland have found to be 90% effective in varroa mite control.
It was once believed that varroa mites only affected communal bees like honeybees, and our native bees were immune from infestation due to their solitary nesting habits; however, we now know that these mites travel on foraging honeybees and drop onto flowers where they wait to attach themselves to their next victim. Native bees unwittingly pick up these mites and then deposit them into their nests. Once ensconced, the mites feed on larvae and pupae and can transfer Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) to surviving young. DWV is considered one of the leading causes of honeybee colony collapse and it is decimating our solitary native bee population as well.
So what if the thymol in Monarda punctata acted both as a deterrent to mites and as an antiviral in the food that the bee larvae consume? According to the National Library of Medicine, "recent work has shown that consumption of plant secondary compounds can reduce pollinator parasite loads". Though they were specifically testing the gut parasite Crithidia bombi load in Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) who were fed a diet of pollen high in thymol, we can only hope for similar results for Deformed Wing Virus. Luckily, the residents of Pleasant Valley Preserve Pollinator Meadow and High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary Pollinator Meadow will have plenty of Monarda punctata and a host of other thymol-laden plants like Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) and Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).
Community Building and Boardwalk Construction
by Kendra Pearson
Simon Solomon, Executive Director and Henry Dul, Land Steward
The CNY Land Trust has been partnering with the Onondaga Nation to create and implement educational programs for students and the general public at Pleasant Valley Preserve. This is part of a greater initiative to partner and cooperate with the Nation in shared land conservation goals.
Recently we learned that the boardwalk trail behind the Onondaga Nation Middle School was in major need of repair and could not safely be used by students. Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship, marshalled together a group of volunteers who have thus far spent two weekends on the mile and a half boardwalk, replacing broken boards, installing new sections, and in some cases rerouting entire stretches to accommodate Onondaga Creek. We also built an observation deck overlooking the creek where students can participate in immersive nature classes. "This is a large project that will require several more days to complete," says Mr. Porter. Next up is a wheelchair ramp, which we will install this spring.
"We are lucky to have so many skilled members of staff and volunteers who can make this happen," says Simon Solomon, Executive Director, who has been volunteering his time on site with the crew. "This is just one of the ways we are connecting with communities to create positive change for people and wildlife," says Mr. Solomon.
Jeanne Shenandoah, who will be teaching the education programs at Pleasant Valley Preserve, was the real catalyst for the boardwalk project. "Ms. Shenandoah is steadfast in finding ways to improve her community and expand opportunities for Haudenosaunee youth," says Mr. Porter. She was instrumental in bringing together members of the Nation with CNY Land Trust staff and volunteers.
Jeanne Shenandoah, Onondaga Nation, Catherine Landis, SUNY ESF and Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship
Outdoor Classroom Observation Deck Plans
Outdoor Classroom Observation Deck Installation
Calling All Target Customers
Target has selected The CNY Land Trust as a recipient of their Target Circle nonprofit giving program. Target chooses a new group of nonprofits to participate quarterly, and shoppers are given votes to cast every time they make a purchase. These votes are free, and are a great way for you to direct how Target gives back to the community.
Show Target how much land conservation means to you by casting your votes for us!
For a video tutorial, check out https://www.youtube.com/shorts/oLLtCN_tVxo
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Work
by Kendra Pearson
Thank you Skaneateles Lake Association and M&T Bank for providing funding to help combat hemlock woolly adelgid HWA (Adelges tsugae) at both our Michele and Margherita Albanese Preserve and High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary on Skaneateles Lake.
Simon Solomon, Executive Director, saw the need to expand our program to address this dangerous invasive, and was able to secure funding to facilitate the work.
HWA are invasive insects that are decimating our Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees throughout NY State. The cascading effects of losing our hemlock trees is immeasurable and potentially devastating to riparian forests along our lakes, rivers, and streams, and we appreciate the support of these two organizations in our work to save them.
Eastern hemlock are essential to riparian zones, which are often highly erodible, steep landscapes. Their root systems provide the framework for soil and sediment stability, and they are important filtration systems for excess nutrients that could otherwise overwhelm our lakes and promote toxic algal blooms. The dense canopy created by hemlock stands helps regulate water temperature, which further mitigates algal growth and provides a stable habitat for aquatic animals such as brook trout and salamanders.
David Dubois, Land Steward, George Spak, Private Cert. Applicator, Henry Dul, Land Steward, Simon Solomon, Executive Director, Rose Anne Gay, Volunteer, and Buzz Roberts, Vice President Skaneateles Lake Association
Saving the Skaneateles Lake Watershed One Property at a Time
by Kendra Pearson
The Central New York Land Trust has acquired a 144-acre parcel in the Skaneateles Lake watershed. This property is just west of the lake and is part of both the Village and Town of Skaneateles. "This newest conservation area is a part of our larger endeavor to safeguard water quality for all of CNY," says Simon Solomon, Executive Director. The project was funded by the NY State Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP), which aims to protect drinking water, improve water quality, conserve aquatic habitats, and ensure climate resiliency. "By working with partners like Central New York Land Trust, New York State is making long-term investments to ensure access to safe drinking water far into the future," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.
The majority of this property has been used for conventional agriculture. Additionally, there are 30 acres of mixed mature deciduous trees. The CNYLT is working with The Nature Conservancy to procure funding to plant several thousand trees on the site in order to reforest highly erodible areas identified on the property. This first phase is intended to prevent soil erosion and sediment from entering the lake.
Watersheds are particularly vulnerable to overdevelopment. The CNYLT is proud to lead the charge of returning land to its natural state, protecting existing wilderness zones in our important watersheds, and helping ensure long-term sustainability for our region.
Woodchuck Hill Here We Come
We are proud to announce that The CNY Land Trust will be moving our offices to Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve on Woodchuck Hill Road.
The Town of Manlius Planning Board approved The Central New York Land Trust to officially move their offices out to the Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve.
A big thank you must go out to our Executive Director Simon Solomon for his vision and forethought and board members Andy Ramsgard and Jane Rice for their assistance along the way.
A thank you must also go out to the 21 Friends of Woodchuck Hill who signed and submitted a petition to the Town of Manlius encouraging the town to approve the move.
A thank you must also go out to The Central New York Community Foundation for believing in us so early on via the Dr. Robert J. Vitkus Fund which is to preserve nature for Central New Yorkers to enjoy.
Construction is scheduled to begin on the house this November while we look to officially move into our permanent home along with a business after-hours ribbon cutting during the afternoon of Thursday, April 4th, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. in conjunction with the Onondaga East Chamber with lite fare & drinks to celebrate!
Bridge Over Important Waters
by Kendra Pearson
Apple Store Employees with Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary
High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary has a new foot bridge. We added a trail to this preserve (White Trail) last year, and this bridge was one of the necessary improvements. The White Trail begins just adjacent to the parking lot next to the pond. It traverses through the lower meadow and enters the shagbark hickory filled woodland and stream system. In order to cross the stream without damage to wildlife and the flow of water into Skaneateles Lake, we teamed up with Apple Store volunteers who helped us build a new bridge and step system. This beautiful addition will make it easier to appreciate the woodland while staying on trail.
Every ecosystem is important from the largest woodland to the smallest creek. Our thoughtful approach to how we impact them will ensure a healthier future for Central New York. This is particularly important in our watersheds where we are taking care to implement the best practices possible. We will be approaching all waterways, floodplains, eskers, riparian zones, and wetlands with great care in our stewardship management plans.
"The Apple Store crew, as always, are enthusiastic and hardworking," says Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship. "Their volunteers also helped us to widen the trail at Three Falls Woods this past summer." This is a nice representation of a new movement in corporate giving where both the employee and the nonprofit are compensated for the good work they do to improve our world.
The CNY Land Trust currently partners with corporate volunteer groups through an organization out of Canada called Benevity. Benevity connects companies with accredited nonprofits, and because they understand that making a nonprofit thrive takes more than just manpower, the companies commit to paying their own staff for the time they volunteer, and providing a generous donation to the nonprofit organization for hosting the volunteer days. It is a win win for everyone, and we think especially for those who choose to volunteer in nature.
Time Lapse Video of the Bridge Build
by Kendra Pearson
After much concern of potential damaging winds and heavy rain, the clouds dissipated, winds subsided, and our third annual EverGreen EverBlue went on without a hitch. The evening was filled with members, friends, family, volunteers, and supporters who came from down the road and across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Central New York Land Trust. "We had a great turnout. This has been our best EverGreen EverBlue so far," said Simon Solomon, Executive Director.
Our keynote speaker and guest of honor was Jim Karp, whose vision all those years ago helped create the sixth largest land trust in New York State. Mr. Karp currently resides in Arizona where, true to his passion for nature, founded The Tubac Nature Center, a conservation organization focusing on the Santa Cruz River and surrounding habitats.
Friends of Woodchuck Hill and Friends of Pleasant Valley were honored for their dedicated service to the Land Trust. One dinner isn't enough to express our gratitude to the people who devote so much of their free time and expertise to the success of our organization.
The Onondaga Earth Corps were honored for their commitment to supporting our youth and encouraging them towards careers in the environmental sciences and community service. They celebrated their 25th anniversary this year. The lives they have touched cannot be quantified. Two of their accomplished alumni were in attendance - Emmanuel Attari and Barbadu Raacha, along with Greg Michel, OEC Executive Director.
Senator Rachel May presented Simon Solomon, Executive Director, with a New York State Senate Proclamation in recognition of our 50 years of service to Central New York, and renewed her office's support of our mission. We look forward to working with her offices to further our mission.
The Onondaga Nation was represented by Jeanne Shenandoah, environmental leader, who will be working with us on an education program promoting better understanding and respect for traditional conservation wisdom.
Much fun was had at the environmentally themed games designed by our stewardship crew and manned by our amazing volunteers. The night was filled with wonderful music provided by Loren Barrigar and his son. Thank you Rodfather's Catering for the delicious food. Beer and wine were generously donated by Skaneateles Brewery, Founders Brewing, Buttonwood Grove Winery, and Anyela's Winery.
Please join us in thanking our corporate sponsors who made this event possible. The partnerships we create with them provide us with the means to fulfill our mission.
We look forward to seeing all of you next year at the fourth annual EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner!
Not a Member Yet?
Our members help us to continue saving land and caring for our preserves. It is because of them that we have been able to save more than 50 conservation sites in 50 years. If you aren't a member yet and would like to join in us protecting our beautiful Central New York, please click here to join today.
"Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall all be saved.” — Jane Goodall