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THE
JOURNAL

Winter Edition

February, 2024

UPCOMING VOLUNTEER DAYS

To sign up for any of the following volunteer days, please click on the button below to fill out the sign up form.

Friday, February 23, 10:00 AM until done - Spring cleaning of the workshop and preserve sign making.  Bachar Preserve in Spafford.

Saturday, March 2, 10:00 AM until done - Road sign installation.  Trail clean up.  Three Falls Woods Preserve in Manlius.

Saturday, March 16th, 10:00 AM until done - Bench building at Bachar Preserve in Spafford.     

Thursday, April 25, 10 AM until done - Spring Break Bat and Bird Box Build at Woodchuck Hill in Manlius.  Looking for something fun to do this spring break while helping out The CNY Land Trust?  Our preserves need new bat boxes and bird boxes.  Bring the whole family and learn how to make nest boxes while helping us to make some for our preserves.

  

Every Monday & Thursday 9:00 - 11:00 AM - Beginning in April and weather dependent.  Dry stone wall building, trail management, and/or invasive plant removal at Woodchuck Hill in Manlius.  No need to sign up, just show up and the volunteer group will get you set up.

Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends of the Trust,


2024 is upon us and The Central New York Land Trust couldn’t be more excited for the year ahead! We kicked things off with our annual First Day Hike on January 1st at our Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve. This preserve consists of 94 acres in the Towns of Manlius and Dewitt and has more man-made features than any other preserve owned by the Land Trust. The property includes a stream that connects White Lake and Snooks Pond and the stream is surrounded by protected wetlands that give way to a cedar forest, and then to hardwoods as you move up slope from the stream. What makes this preserve even more special is the fact that it will soon be our ‘forever home’ once we make the move from our office rental in Skaneateles this April! 

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The CNY Land Trust acquired more than 700 acres during 2023 which equates to a total of 56 preserved properties and more than 4,200 acres managed in and around Oswego and Onondaga County since 1973

This April will also play host to our annual Walk for Nature “Walk-a-Thon” scheduled at the Marcellus Town Park on Saturday, April 20th . Consider signing up to walk with other likeminded individuals to help us continue to conserve land, safeguard drinking water, and restore wildlife habitats. The CNY Land Trust has been conserving land for more than 50 years. We saved our first property, Baltimore Woods, in 1972 with the help of several schools and their students. They rallied together and raised money from friends and family members who sponsored them to walk on Earth Day. The Trust raised enough money to pay the entire purchase price of what is now known as and managed by Baltimore Woods Nature Center, which has remained forever wild and open to the public ever since.


The Central New York Land Trust has ambitious goals for 2024. We will begin to plan and construct three new parking lots this year to allow for better access at our Pleasant Valley Preserve, Perkins Woods at Little Tuck in Otisco and at Three Falls Woods in Manlius. We will continue to set our sights on protecting the headwaters of Onondaga Creek and working with the Onondaga Nation. And we will continue to engage our surrounding preserve communities in which nature is valued as essential to quality of life in surrounding counties such as Onondaga, Oswego, Madison & Oneida. Our goal as a Land Trust is to promote functional ecosystems and landscapes, healthy watersheds, along with native plant and animal species for long-term sustainability. I look forward to sharing an update about progress in the coming months. Thank you for your continued support of The Central New York Land Trust, Inc. 

 

 

 


Simon M. Solomon
Executive Director

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Letter
Perkins Woods at Little Tuck

by Kendra Pearson

Sometimes the best way to hold on to something is to give it away, and that is exactly what the Perkins family did this past year when they donated their late parent's beloved woodland property to The CNY Land Trust. 

Located off of Woodmancy Road in Otisco, Perkins at Little Tuck consists of 91 acres of predominantly deciduous trees on a steep incline, which tops out at over 1,600 feet.  When we open this new conservation site, avid hikers will be pleasantly surprised by the beautiful, challenging climb and scenic views at the top.  The trip to the summit is demanding for most hikers - taking about an hour and covering 500 vertical feet (the equivalent of climbing up the stairwell of a 50-floor skyscraper). 

Two Generations - One Legacy
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The Perkins Family - First row left to right: Gini Bolton (daughter), Deb Perkins (daughter-in-law), Rachel Perkins, Dick Perkins, and Peggy Perkins (daughter-in-law); middle row: Andrew Bolton, Michael Bolton, Emme Perkins, Aster Perkins; back row: Sid Perkins, Jeff Perkins, Dave Perkins

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Using the Rope Tow up Little Tuck

Perkins at Little Tuck was originally owned by Syracuse University and leased to the Onondaga Ski Club throughout the 50s and 60s.  The club installed a rope tow, which propelled winter sports enthusiasts to the top of the hill in under two minutes with a motor and pulley system, which was "built before safety was something people thought too much about," said Dave Perkins.  Members could ride the pulley system and ski all day for the whopping sum of 25 cents.  (More information about Little Tuck, the Onondaga Ski Club, and the ingenious ways they got members to the top in the article below).

The property was purchased from SU by an individual who sold it to Dick and Rachel Perkins in 1972, but not before logging many of the large maple trees to the dismay of Rachel, who was devastated at the destruction left behind. 

The family moved to the new property with only an old ski hut for shelter, and no electricity, plumbing or running water.  Rachel, Dick and their daughter stayed in the three-walled hut while the boys camped outside in tents through the warmer months until finally they could move inside in October, after an early snow which flattened one of the tents - a rude awakening on a school day!

Their summers were filled with building and extending the family home and barns and exploring the property, and winters were spent skiing the hill.  Over the years, the family completed many additions to their home and meticulously maintained the woodland.

Dick Perkins, PhD was a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Engineering.  He and Rachel met at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie and married in 1954.  They were both adventurous people who loved the outdoors, taking their children camping and skiing around the country, even spending a year on sabbatical in Poitiers, France, and creating a lifetime of cherished memories.

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A Family Project - The Original Ski Hut Becomes a House 1972

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When back home at Little Tuck, the family immersed themselves in their woodland.  Rachel would take the children out to identify birds and explore.  "Our mother would get excited to find something new and would go home to research it," said Dave Perkins.  From British soldier lichen to wild raspberries and blackberries, every hike was an opportunity to discover the treasures at Little Tuck.  "One day she was excited to find Dutchman's Breeches growing in the woods, but the plant turned out to be Squirrel Corn," said Dave.  More about these two look-alike plants in this newsletter. 

Over the years, the Perkins family expanded their holdings at Little Tuck, purchasing contiguous parcels as they became available, and eventually amassing more than 100 acres. 

After the children grew up, Dick, Rachel, and their dogs continued to live at Little Tuck, hiking the hill nearly every day for decades.  They loved traveling through the maple trees, checking on the spring which they used for water, and taking in the scenery at the summit.  

Jeff and Dave Perkins

At the top of Little Tuck, they would sit at their special rock and reward their dogs with a treat.  Called "Biscuit Rock", this site will be the future home of a commemorative bench in honor of the people who loved this land, and to the children who cared enough about their legacy to give it away so it could stay forever wild.  "My parents enjoyed this land, and they loved to share it," said Dave.  "They protected and cared for it.  They wouldn't have wanted it split up amongst their heirs.  They would have wanted it to stay together.  They certainly would have loved for it to stay in the family, but we believe that giving it to The CNY Land Trust is the best way to do that.  It will always be there for us, our children, and for everyone else to come." 

Thank you Jeff and Peg Perkins, Dave and Deb Perkins, and Virginia Bolton for your foresight and generosity to the community.  We are honored to help you share your parent's legacy.  

This summer will be the ribbon cutting event and grand opening for Perkins at Little Tuck once the parking lot is complete.  If you decide to take the hike to Biscuit Rock, you may meet one of the Perkins clan as they are integrally connected to this woodland and will be continuing to help maintain the land they love with our stewardship crew.     

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Rachel and Dick Perkins with Their Dog Onslow on Biscuit Rock

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A Little Ski Hill and a Lot of Ingenuity

Thank you Perkins Family for providing the following article from Ski Magazine's 1954 issue.  

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Remnants from the pulley system can still be seen at Perkins at Little Tuck as you hike through the beautiful maple trees on your way to the top.

Ski Hill
Walk for Nature

by Kendra Pearson

Get your tickets now for Walk for Nature.  Join us April 20th at 12:00 at Marcellus Park to help us raise money for land conservation!  Stroll through this beautiful park and enjoy live music along the trail, food, drinks, and prizes? 

 

Admission is $35 per person and includes a free Walk for Nature t-shirt.  This year's design features one of our favorite pollinator species, the bumblebee.  Tickets are on sale now.  

We are signing up schools, scouts, and clubs to raise money and walk with us.  Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship, is hard at work presenting to groups, getting the next generation excited about environmental conservation and educating them about all of the important work we do.  Students sign up for free, get people to sponsor them in the walk, and receive free t-shirts for participating.  The school or club with the most walkers will win a pizza party for up to 100 students.  

 

If you are a teacher or know of a school that would like to get involved, please email pporter@cnylandtrust.org for more information or visit https://www.cnylandtrust.org/walk-4-nature-2024. 

Do you want to help us spread the word?  We need volunteers to help us put up posters around CNY.  Send us an email if you would like to help.  No time to put up posters?  You can still help spread the word by sharing our social media posts about Walk for Nature.  Follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and spread the word.  

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Click to Like and Follow The CNY Land Trust

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Walk for Nature
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Dutchman's Breeches or Squirrel Corn?
Two Elusive Ephemerals

by Kendra Pearson

Springtime offers short windows of incredible woodland flowers that emerge, bloom, go to seed, and die back all before the tree leaves fill in the canopy above.  This is the time of year you will find me traipsing through the forest admiring old familiars like white trillium and trout lily, and though I love these signals of summer to come, I am secretly in search of a much more elusive flower - Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).

Once common in my old haunts, Dicentra cucullaria has become increasingly hard to find.  Its lookalike, squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), is also becoming less commonplace.  If you happen upon a feathery leaved plant with clusters of dainty, white flowers, you may have found one of these springtime ephemeral flowers.  They can be difficult to tell apart at first, but once you learn some tricks they are easy to identify. 

Dutchman's breeches or squirrel corn flowers have similar leaves, are found in the same habitats, and are both in bloom in early spring.  The easiest way to tell them apart is by the flowers, but you have to be quick because they are only around for a short period of time. 

Dutchman's Breeches gets its name from the shape of its flowers, which look like pairs of upside-down pantaloons suspended on an outstretched nodding stem.  Their flowers are distinct in their pointed appearance and they have yellow "belts", which are highly attractive to bumblebees. 

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Dutchman's Breeches Flowers

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Squirrel Corn Flowers

Squirrel corn's flowers are rounded at the top and borne on upright stems.  They lack the bright yellow belt, but instead rely on their lovely fragrance to attract pollinators.  

Dutchman's Breeches and squirrel corn flowers have nectar spurs.  Nectar spurs are hollow extensions of flowers, which are pointed in the case of Dutchman's breeches.  Accessing this prized nectar requires long-tongued pollinators, but these native plants have co-evolved with one of my favorite native pollinators, the bumblebee (Bombus), which happens to have the longest proboscis of any bee.  Bumblebees are also well-adapted to early spring weather with their chubby bodies covered in thick, insulating pile. 

Bumblebees are uniquely adapted to pollinating flowers with nectar spurs because of their long tongues.  They are also persistent at prying open the flowers using buzz pollination and sometimes even brute force to get their long proboscises inside and all the way down to the prize.  This has an added benefit to the plant as plenty of pollen lands on the bee to ensure pollination. 

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Bumblebee on Breeches

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Yellow Elaiosome Attached to the Seed

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Dutchman's breeches and squirrel corn share many common traits, including their peculiar method of seed dispersal called myrmecochory.  Most myrmecochorous plants produce seeds with elaiosomes, which are food structures attached to the seed that are rich in lipids, amino acids and proteins.  Elaiosomes provide an important source of nutrition for ants who carry them back to their nests where the fleshy elaiosomes are eaten and the seeds are discarded in the nest debris, where they remain protected in the ant colony's equivalent of a compost pile until they germinate.

Squirrel corn and Dutchman's breeches not only spread by seed, but they propagate via corms, which are similar to bulbs.  In fact, squirrel corn gets its name from its underground food storage structures, which look like random yellow corn kernels dispersed along the root.  Dicentra cucullaria corms are brown and tightly packed together at the base of the stem like a pine cone.

 

I hope some of you will be inspired to go hunting this spring for a glimpse of these petaled pantaloons.  If you see any, please send pictures to kpearson@cnylandtrust.org.  I look forward to seeing what you discover, and may even use it in a social media post, so make sure to provide your social media details so I can tag you.  Please take photos only.  These plants can be purchased from nurseries, and their seeds are available online.   

Dutchman's Breeches (Left) and Squirrel Corn (Right) Side by Side

Author's Note: This year I decided to start some Dutchman's breeches seeds in an effort to introduce them to my woodland.  They are currently being cold stratified in preparation for spring.  Before Perkins at Little Tuck is open to the public, I hope to plant some there in honor of Rachel Perkins and our shared fascination with nature and this truly special little flower.

Dicentra
In the News
The Central New York Land Trust Looks Back on Its 50 Years of Service to Central New York 

Press Release by Simon Solomon

The Central New Land Trust, established in 1973 and one of Central New York’s oldest land trusts, took this year to reflect on its grass roots beginnings and celebrate its accomplishments over the past 50 years. “This organization basically started as a group of SUNY ESF students and their professor, Jim Karp, coming together in 1972 to see if they could rally the Onondaga County Community on Earth Day to walk together to save an ecologically-valuable piece of land in Marcellus known as Baltimore Woods from becoming a gravel pit,” said Executive Director, Simon Solomon. “After the success of that walkathon,” he continued, “several members of that grass roots group had a vision of continuing to save land and habitat in the county and the following year, formed the first version of our organization called Save The County.” “However, saving land in Onondaga County was not enough,” noted Solomon, “so we started moving into Oswego County and changed the name of the organization in 2009 to The Central New York Land Trust, Inc. to reflect this new philosophy.” Fast forward to this year, the rented headquarters of The Central New York Land Trust sits in the Village of Skaneateles at the north end of beautiful Skaneateles Lake, but not for long. Andrew Ramsgard, Board Chair of The Central New York Land Trust, stated, “Sometime between 1994-1995, we received a beautiful 59-acre piece of property in the Town of Manlius from the Digney Family, and in 2009, received another 35 acres in the Town of Dewitt from The Nature Conservancy, for a total of 94 acres which has become our Woodchuck Hill Preserve.” He continued, “Along with this property came a house which we have been trying to decide how best to use. After much consideration, and with the help of a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation, our Board has decided to convert the house into permanent offices for our organization.” Construction on the parking lot and grounds around the house began the beginning of December and remodeling of the house should be complete by mid-March, 2024. Solomon stated, “We are excited about this new chapter in the history of our organization and look forward to being in our new offices by the end of April, 2024.” 

 

In addition to working on procuring a new, permanent home for the Land Trust’s headquarters, Solomon stated, “We have been hard at work saving land this year as well. By December 31, 2023, we will have saved four more properties totaling 695 in additional acres. This will bring our total preserves to 56 and total acres saved to roughly 4,000 acquired over the past 50 years!” The new preserves are located in both Onondaga and Oswego Counties, two of which will be accessible to the public for hiking in the future. Solomon clarified, “Both the Perkins Woods at Little Tuck Preserve in the Town of Otisco and the HartFarms Preserve in the Town of Hannibal will have trails created so that the public will be able to enjoy these beautiful properties.” He continued, “The Black Creek Preserve in Clay and the O’Neill Family Farm Field Property in Skaneateles are both former farm fields that our Director of Stewardship, Paul Porter, will be working to restore to a more natural state.” Solomon concluded, “We are so pleased to be able to add these properties to our growing list of preserves and to be able to offer the public more areas to explore and connect with the land.” He also hinted there may be more properties in the pipeline for 2024. 

 

The Central New York Land Trust seeks to preserve and protect natural areas in order to provide our communities clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, and a chance to connect with the land. For more information about the Central New York Land Trust, visit www.cnylandtrust.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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2023 Walk for Nature at Green Lakes State Park

News
Woodchuck Hill Office Progress

Crews have been working hard getting our offices completed at Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve.  As many of you know, the farmhouse we are converting was vacant for a long time, and repairs, updates, and necessities have been significant.  Thank you everyone who donated during our Giving Tuesday office campaign this past November.  

We still plan to move to Woodchuck Hill in April, though further work is needed not only to the farmhouse, but the barn, driveway, and trails.  We are reaching out to individuals and/or corporations who are able to help us make some of these repairs/upgrades a reality.  

A permanent donor plaque will be displayed inside the The CNY Land Trust offices with the names of donors who contribute $2,500 or more to make the following projects possible:  Patch, repair, and paint the exterior of our new offices.  Repair, upgrade and paint the interior and exterior of the barn.  Continue the asphalt driveway to the trailhead.  Repair, upgrade and paint the interior and exterior of the barn.  Install new trail signs, update directional markers and trail maintenance. The estimated cost to complete all of these projects is $150,000.  We anticipate Woodchuck Hill to be an ongoing project, but some of this work needs to be completed sooner rather than later.

Our members, volunteers and friends are loyal to businesses who support causes that are near and dear to them.  If you are a business and contribute $10,000 or more before April 1, 2024, in addition to adding your name to our plaque, we will include your company logo and information in our spring newsletter, place your logo on our new Woodchuck Hill kiosk, create two social media posts about your company on Facebook and Instagram, and add you to our website sponsor page.  Please email Simon Solomon at ssolomon@cnylandtrust.org or call (315) 575-8839 for more information.

If you are an individual and would like to donate $5,000 or more to our Woodchuck Hill office, in addition to adding your name to our plaque, we will create a handmade, solid white oak commemorative bench in your honor or in memory of someone.  Please contact Paul Porter pporter@cnylandtrust.org for more information about commemorative benches.    

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Woodchuck Hill Exterior

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Woodchuck Hill Interior

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Commemorative Bench

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Future Site of the CNY Land Trust Offices

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First Day Hike

Members once again joined us for our second annual First Day Hike.  This year we walked the trail at Woodchuck Hill Field and Forest Preserve in Manlius. 

The weather cooperated with breaks of sun, and though many of us had high hopes of a snow-covered walk, this year's mild winter prevailed.  

First day hikes have been a popular event since their inception in 1992 by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Within the span of twenty years, the tradition of hiking on January 1st was adopted by all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. 

Make sure to mark your calendars for next year's hike!

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First Day Hike
Thank You Supporters

Thank you for voting for us in the Target Circle Giving Program.  We received $1,858 to help us further our mission.  This donation came from a larger pool of funds donated from Target to nonprofits tied to the local community.  View all the results at target.com/circle.

Continue checking our website and social media channels to learn more about our work.  

 

Again, to everyone who participated, spread the word, and shared the love, thank you!

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What's Winter Without Snow?

by Kendra Pearson

Blowing Snow

Are you feeling like winter skipped us this year?  So far, Syracuse has had less than 30 inches of snow.  Normally by the end of January our totals hover around 75 inches.  For those who enjoy winter sports or who rely on the snow for their income, this season has been downright crushing.  We still have a few weeks left in February, and if any of you remember March of 2018, you know that it is possible to get 35 inches of snow between now and April, though statistically not very probable.  This will still leave us behind in wintertime snowfall totals, which historically are around 114 inches.

We are experiencing what is called a snow drought, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, "Regions that receive a great deal of their precipitation in the form of snow face a number of challenges when snow droughts occur." The impacts are often widespread, affecting ecosystems and water levels.

Snow droughts can cause plants to be stressed and root damage to occur due to lack of moisture and insulation from the effects of winter temperatures.  These stressed plants go on to become susceptible to harmful insects and diseases in the spring and summer.  

During this spring and summer, we should expect reduced streamflow and soil moisture, which can have major impacts on water levels, vegetation, municipal water supplies, and wildfires.  

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