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Letter from our Executive Director
We've been enjoying some glorious weather here in NY, and with it great opportunities to get outside and experience the wonders of the region. I encourage you to visit our more seasonable access preserves such as Ripley Hill in Skaneateles, which will be hard to visit once the snow flies once again.
Since our last newsletter, we have finalized the acquisition of a new 91+ acre preserve in Tully, NY called Perkins Woods at Little Tuck. We will unveil more about this beautiful and important parcel at our upcoming EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner on August 12th at Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve.
Work has been progressing on our preserves with trail clearing, invasive species removal, and tree planting. We have just recently installed our first commemorative bench at Pleasant Valley Preserve with two more scheduled to go in at the end of this summer. And we have recently completed the second phase of our steep bank repair at The Michele and Margherita Albanese Preserve in Spafford.
Simon Solomon helping to water in our new saplings at The Michele and Margherita Albanese Preserve in Spafford.
The CNY Land Trust board, staff, and I have been working hard to put on a memorable 50th anniversary EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner. This year, we will have some very special guests including founder Jim Karp, NY State Senator Rachel May, and members from Onondaga Earth Corps. As we reflect on 50 years of conservation history, we will be taking the opportunity to recognize some of the people who have made our organization what it is today. This is also an opportunity to celebrate and let loose a little with live music, great food, delicious drinks, and lots of fun before we return to the work you have entrusted us to do.
If you haven't already purchased your tickets, there is still time, but we have a limited number of seats left, so make sure to purchase yours now! I look forward to seeing all of you on August 12th!
Simon Millar Solomon
The Central New York Land Trust
EverGreen EverBlue 2023
This is our third annual EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner, and we are cooking up a celebration befitting our golden anniversary. With food from Rodfather's, music from Loren Barrigar, silent auction, and a whole host of games, fun and prizes, how could you even think about missing this event? We hope you can join us as we reflect on 50 years of land conservation in CNY. You can purchase your tickets here.
We will be joined by Senator Rachel May and Onondaga Earth Corps. EverGreen EverBlue will be held at Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve in Manlius, 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM.
We would like to thank our EverGreen EverBlue sponsors Bob's CNC Routers, Brillo Excavating & Waste Disposal, Cayuga Tree Service, Inc., Hueber Breuer, Nucor Steel of Auburn, Skaneateles Brewery, Tap Root Fields, and Vectric Software.
We would also like to thank all of the silent auction donors (and if we missed any they will be updated in the weeks to come as we will be adding items right up to the day). This list is in no particular order: Skaneateles Jewelry, Tap Root Fields, Crazy Daisies, Nightingale Mills of Marcellus, Black Brook Farm of Skaneateles, Bijou Salon, Beak &Skiff, Crazy Daisies, Native Roots Ecosystem, The Little Jazz Trio, Faverolles Garden, Mello Velo, Doug's Fish Fry, Marrone Law Firm, Nightingale Mills, Sharon Bottle-Souva, Bill Bush flight tours, the and the Syracuse Mets. If you would like to donate an item to our silent auction, please email Kathy Schwab at email@example.com.
Please patron these above businesses. With companies still recovering from the economic tumult of the last few years, these businesses still found a way to support The CNY Land Trust, and we hope you will, in turn, support them. Thank you businesses, thank you members, thank you donors, and thank you staff and board for everything you do for the future of our region and its inhabitants. See you August 12th!
50 Years 51 Preserves
Canterbury Woods 20.70 acres
*Camillus Valley Natural Area 247.59 acres
Beacon Pond 13.29 acres
Lake Forest Preserve 102.86 acres
Heron Marsh 92.21 acres
*Marie's Woods 66.9 acres
Rosewood Wetland 12.56 acres
The Pastures 20.70 acres
*Friendship Woods 13.40 acres
Green Heron Swamp 30.67 acres
Tobias Shaver Nature Preserve 36.64 acres
*Riverwalk 99.74 acres
Butternut Swamp 41.96 acres
Carpenters Brook Meadow 11.56 acres
Elbridge Swamp & Towpath 291.50 acres
Cherry Valley Preserve 46.87 acres
Mason Hill 86.31 acres
Emerick Road 36.07 acres
Austin Wildlife Refuge 15.85 acres
*Brickyard Falls View 47.36 acres
Cases' Landing 75.35 acres
Robert G. Hildreth Esker 15.00 acres
Robert's Woods 61.94 acres
*Three Falls Woods 77.08 acres
*Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve 93.70 acres
*Baltimore Woods 175.05 acres
Holdridge HabItat Woods 20.67 acres
TOWN OF ONONDAGA
*Bigsby Drumlin 19.37 acres
Broad Road Heights 16.02 acres
Lockwood Properties 87.16 acres
Herbert Luke Sanger Wildlife Preserve 22.93 acres
Pleasant Valley Preserve 304.65 acres
Pumpkin Hollow 11.18 acres
South Onondaga Marsh 5.87 acres
Carpenters Pond 19.7 acres3
*Indian Hill 37.40 acres
*Old Fly Marsh 77.20 acres
*Bachar Preserve 15.30 acres
*High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary 92.28 acres
Michele & Margherita Albanese Preserve 93.38 acres
*Ripley Hill 118.00 acres
Snow Creek Ravine 7.23 acres
Cheney (Rte 81) 46.57 acres
Perkins Woods at Little Tuck 91.27 acres
*South Meadows 27.26 acres
*Tracy Lake 79.92 acres
*Whiskey Hollow 44.78 acres
Winona Woods Municipality of Boylston 50.00 acres
Granby Woods 23.50 acres
Fen at Silver Lake 167.26 acres
Rathburn Road Oswego 50.00 acres
Snake Swamp Oswego 66.12 acres
*Open to the public
A Legacy of Conservation
by Kendra Pearson
In the early 1970s, a small group of SUNY ESF students, a Syracuse University professor, and an entire generation of local public school students built the foundation for what would become The Central New York Land Trust with more than 3,500 acres and 51 unique wildlife preserves spread across Onondaga and Oswego counties.
Jon Bart was in his last year at SUNY ESF when he attended Jim Karp's Environmental Law class at Syracuse University, and the two developed a friendship over their shared love of birding and desire to protect valuable natural areas. Eventually, this led them to the idea of having a walkathon to raise money to purchase and protect undeveloped land in Onondaga County.
Jon Bart was able to convince SUNY ESF administration to let him use a vacant attic room in one of the academic buildings, which would serve as the makeshift headquarters for their group. He mobilized fellow students and did much of the legwork to create the first Walk to Save the County. The event entailed local middle and high school students raising pledge money for every mile they walked.
Jim Karp was, as he describes himself, "the grown up of the group". He helped lead, steer, and organize between students, faculty and the public, which was instrumental in establishing Save The County and procuring our first nature preserve, Baltimore Woods. Because Save The County was so new and had not raised any money yet when Baltimore Woods was being sold, he reached out to The Nature Conservancy and convinced them to lend Save The County the purchase price, which would later be repaid with proceeds from the walk.
Save The County could not predict whether they would raise the funds to pay back the loan, but the children came out in droves, raising more than $24,000, the bulk of the purchase price. Future walks would prove to be even more successful, raising money to save land well into the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, schools were saturated with several organizations vying for their fundraising potential. Eventually we switched to a membership-based model for raising money, but this year we brought it back with our 50th anniversary Walk for Nature.
Jon Bart graduated a year after the first walk and went on to receive his Master's in Theoretical Ecology and Doctorate in Environmental Science from Cornell. He became a professor at Ohio State and a research scientist for the US Government, most notably working on high-profile conservation issues including Spotted Owls, Mariana Crow, Sage Grouse, and population trends in land birds.
For the past fifteen years, Jon has switched his focus to tackling poverty by empowering farmers with modern methods, especially irrigation, to produce certified organic products in Sierra Leone with his company Village Hope. I spoke with Jon, who does not appear to have lost an ounce of the passion or hyperfocus he had back in 1972. He works on both sides of the poverty issue for farmers by assisting them in implementing more modern farming methods, and by establishing a supply chain to get their products to consumers and manufacturers in other countries.
Jim Karp stayed with Save The County in various capacities for thirty years, helping to forge a path for us to become the sixth largest land conservation organization in NY State. He has been instrumental in every facet of what we do, and his devotion to wildlife conservation is a core part of our foundation.
After retirement, Jim moved to Arizona where he continued his passion for birding, which led him to another great legacy - the establishment of The Tubac Nature Center in Tubac, Arizona. Starting from scratch in another borrowed room at The Tubac Community Center, Jim established a team and worked diligently to promote land conservation along the Santa Cruz River. The Tubac Nature Center recently received a 160-acre donation of land consisting of desert, cottonwood forest, and manmade wetlands.
When asked about the current role the US has to play in land conservation, Jon Bart said "Despite all of the problems in the US right now, for people in places like Sierra Leone the US is heaven. We are looked to as the leader, and when we get it right it contributes to their knowledge and sets an example for the whole world to follow."
Jim Karp similarly has a more global view of future land conservation efforts. "Human migration has created increased pressure on the US, and our approach of building taller barriers has resulted in cutting off land animal migration in certain areas of North America." In this way, Jim sees land conservation shifting towards creating safe passageways for animals and corridors of wildlife stretching across the continent.
The CNY Land Trust is playing its part in this global macro model by increasing our efforts to save land, focusing on ethical management of our existing preserves, educating the public on the importance of conservation, and reconnecting habitats that have been cut off by human encroachment and intervention.
Jim Karp and Jon Bart receiving a donation from the Central New York Wildfowlers for Save The County
The second Walk to Save the County in 1973 raised $60,000
2023 Walk for Nature saw students once again putting on their sneakers to save land
In these endeavors, we will be looking to businesses, government and individuals to partner with us to open up funding streams, identify key properties in need of preservation, and assist in projects crucial to our conservation efforts. With this collective might, we can expand on the legacy started 50 years ago by Jim Karp and Jon Bart to protect the natural beauty and ecological diversity of Central New York and perhaps even inspire the world.
by Kendra Pearson
It is always a welcome sight to see a bench up ahead on the trail, especially on a hot day. When Director of Stewardship, Paul Porter, started looking to replace and add benches to some of our preserves, he wanted to make sturdy, long-lasting pieces, but also artistic designs that visitors would enjoy as much as the natural surroundings. After consulting many parks managers and reviewing designs, he decided on a composition that would be difficult to remove, sturdy for all types of wear, tear, and weather, and environmentally friendly for the surrounding wildlife. He also wanted to be able to offer commemorative benches where individuals could be memorialized, and loved ones could reflect in serene surroundings.
"We already had two benches ordered on the first day" said Paul, "both of which have been completed, and one installed". That first bench is located at Pleasant Valley Preserve just southwest of the main trail before the bridge. It is a memorial for Sherri Leigh Smith with original artwork by Anna Stunkel, commissioned by Diane Emord, Friend of Pleasant Valley, and made of untreated slab white oak. The bench offers a spectacular view of the wetland, and is located in a peaceful spot off of the trail.
Paul and Henry are able to take most artwork and, with the help of Vectric Software, carve it with the new Bob's CNC router in our volunteer workshop. If original artwork is not available, they will create or procure digital art to suit the project.
Proceeds from the sale of these benches help to fund long-term site maintenance of the bench and surrounding preserve.
If you are interested in a commemorative bench, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (315) 575-8839 and speak with Paul.
Vista wetland view from the new bench
Birds rise above it all commemorative bench at Pleasant Valley Preserve
Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve
by Kendra Pearson
Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve is an oasis of wildlife in a predominantly residential area of Fayetteville. It has a mixed deciduous forest filled with 80+ year old hardwoods, a threatened marl fen, wetland, and meadows, which were donated to The CNY Land Trust by Beryl Digney in 1994. Mrs. Digney's intent was for the land to stay "forever wild".
The meadows at Woodchuck Hill were used by Mrs. Digney for pasture for her unusual collection of animals, including llamas and miniature donkeys, but seeing an opportunity to provide safe habitat for our increasingly declining ground nesting bird populations, we implemented a mowing protocol to promote suitable nesting sites. For the last three years, Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Black Bird, Bobolink, and Northern Harrier have all been observed in the meadows. With plummeting numbers of Eastern Meadowlark in the range of 5% per year in New York State, we are pleased to see this habitat being utilized by them.
This spring, staff and volunteers had a nest box building day, and several of those boxes were installed in the meadows, which are already being used by Bluebirds and Tree Swallows this summer. Woodchuck Hill is a great beginner birder's paradise with birds ranging from Broad-winged Hawks to Marsh Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglets to Wood Thrush, and so many more species to identify.
This past year Simon Solomon, Executive Director, has been working hard to pave the way for our offices to be moved to the old farm house and barn, which would ultimately also serve as a hub for local residents and visitors to the area. "It will be exciting to have our offices ensconced in this natural setting," said Simon. This move will bring us closer to several beloved preserves in the area, including Three Falls Woods, Brickyard Falls, Indian Hill, and Old Fly Marsh.
Woodchuck Hill has a loyal and long-standing volunteer group, Friends of Woodchuck Hill. Members have been rebuilding the old stone wall that lines the long driveway, providing a warm welcome for visitors. The wall has been a labor of love and required countless hours of diligent work by this group, many of whom have been involved with The CNY Land Trust since before Woodchuck Hill's acquisition. They also meticulously maintain the trails, making this site a real joy to walk for visitors. If you live near Woodchuck Hill and would like to join their volunteer group, they have a volunteer workday every Thursday starting at 9:00 AM.
We will be hosting our third annual EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner at Woodchuck Hill August 12th, 5:00-10:00 PM. Attendees will be afforded the opportunity to see the preserve and meet the Friends of Woodchuck Hill volunteer group, whom we will be honoring for their hard work and dedication.
Photo by Sue March
Photo by Linda Lowen
Photo by Linda Lowen
Cornus alternifolia in bloom
Alternate Leaf Dogwood
A Great Native for Landscaping
Alternative Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) aka Pagoda Dogwood is a small native tree/shrub that is a good candidate for inclusion in your native garden plans. It is a smaller hardwood that tops out to between 15-25 feet in height, and 20-30 feet in width, but is a powerhouse provider of shade, food, and habitat.
Cornus alternifolia have a tiered horizontal branching habit, which is why they are also called Pagoda Dogwood. This graceful structure can be encouraged with selective pruning, removing downward facing branches and promoting the layered shape.
Cornus alternifolia berries
In the spring, Alternate Leaf Dogwoods are covered with cream to yellow colored flower clusters that have a strong, honeysuckle scent, which attracts a plethora of pollinators to the garden, including the Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon) and the Summer Azure Butterfly (Celastrina neglecta) for whom the Cornus alternifolia is a host plant.
During the hot summer months, the dense canopy of leaves helps to shade the garden and provides habitat for wildlife. The trees themselves are fairly pest resistant and easy to grow, preferring partial shade and well-drained soil and withstand neglect and the ever changing CNY summer weather.
In the fall, the leaves turn a beautiful deep maroon color, which offset the bluish-black berries that birds and small mammals feast on. The berries remain attached to these trees and add nicely to the winter landscape after all of the leaves have fallen, though they will soon be consumed by hungry residents who remain for the winter months.
Cornus alternifolia in summer
Authors note - I was gifted three Cornus alternifolia this spring by Steve and Kathy Schwab, long-time CNY Land Trust supporters, board members, and native plant enthusiasts. They were added to my collection of other native dogwoods scattered around the property. All dogwoods that have been added to my landscape have been resilient and rewarding, transplanting with no difficulty and blending in to the native landscape where they belong. I am looking forward to the gifts these beautiful native trees will bring to my yard and its inhabitants. If you have space, I encourage you to add some to your oasis.
Honoring Onondaga Earth Corps
by Kendra Pearson
Syracuse and the surrounding areas have been getting a serious makeover for the past twenty years with the help of Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC). OEC has been empowering youth by paying them to work on community projects, providing them with training in environmental careers, and promoting a sense of civic pride and duty. They do all this while diligently working on projects to improve Syracuse.
One of the green initiatives they are working on is called ReLeaf Syracuse, which is an urban forestry program carried out in conjunction with the Syracuse Parks Department and a steering committee of community organizations, businesses, and government agencies. According to Onondaga Earth Corps website, "It’s been over 20 years since the devastating Labor Day Storm that toppled thousands of trees across Syracuse (on public and private land). Despite efforts to bring back trees that were lost, Syracuse’s tree canopy cover of 27% has remained relatively unchanged since 1998 and is below the average of 34% for cities east of the Mississippi River." ReLeaf Syracuse intends to change that by planting trees in city parks and along roadways, and providing saplings and assistance to homeowners who wish to plant trees on their property.
While OEC is creating a greener Syracuse, they are forging brighter futures for their staff with training and responsibilities designed to empower them with confidence and skills for their future. "Every time we work with Onondaga Earth Corps crews we get way more work done than we expect," says Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship. He has been working on creating joint programs with Onondaga Earth Corps in an effort to bridge the nature gap that has excluded inner city youth from experiencing the outdoors, which goes hand in hand with The Central New York Land Trust's mission to connect people with nature.
OEC Crew at Bigsby Drumlin
OEC Crew Working on Steep Bank Trails
This past month, OEC crews worked with our stewardship team restoring steep bank trails at Bigsby Drumlin in temperatures topping 93 degrees. "Restoring trails on steep slopes is technically challenging work, and there aren't many opportunities in an urban environment to learn these skills," says Paul. "Our nature preserves provide these types of unique work experiences that they can then utilize in their own land management projects."
In recognition for their outstanding community and environmental service, The CNY Land Trust will be honoring Onondaga Earth Corps at EverGreen EverBlue fundraising dinner on August 12th. We hope you will join us in applauding their work, congratulating them on twenty years of service to the community, and commending them on their mission.
OEC Crew at Skaneateles Lake learning about riparian zone repairs and having a little fun
OEC Crew at Bachar Preserve working with power tools and building with wood
New CNY Land Trust T-Shirts & Tote Bags
Help spread the message about threatened habitats and species loss with our new CNY Land Trust t-shirts and tote bags.
These 100% cotton tees are a limited run. They come in a variety of sizes. Many species face extinction here in NY. In fact, we couldn't fit them all on a t-shirt if we tried. We have highlighted some of the more recognizable creatures that we have lost or are losing right here in NY.
Let everyone know that you help to save land and wildlife, including the threatened American Hart's Tongue Fern, with this large, durable canvas bag. The CNY Land Trust has been working with the NY Parks Department to establish the American Hart's Tongue Fern at one of our preserves in Manlius, NY. The American Hart's Tongue Fern is listed as threatened by both the Federal Government and NY State. We have been protecting a unique habitat that is suitable for re-establishing this important plant in our area.
Our tees and totes are hand-printed locally in Auburn, NY by Farmboy Graphics.
If you are interested in purchasing any of our merchandise, please click here.
2023 EverGreen EverBlue Sponsors
We would like to thank this year's EverGreen EverBlue corporate sponsors. They have made a commitment to support The Central New York Land Trust in its mission to conserve land.