First Day Hike
Join us for our First Day Walk of the year at Pleasant Valley Preserve on January 1st at 10AM. Start the new year off right with an invigorating excursion at one of our most popular preserves. Dig out your snow shoes, mud boots, cross country skis, walking sticks, gloves, hats, and scarves. All manner of forward movement is welcome. We look forward to seeing you there! Please RSVP.
A Letter From Our New Executive Director
Dear Friends of the Central New York Land Trust,
I am excited to announce that I have joined the Central New York Land Trust as the new Executive Director! Although our physical land trust office is located at 7 Fennell Street in Skaneateles, I’ve been fortunate to have been introduced to many of our supporters while touring several of the 51 preserves managed by the CNY Land Trust since my arrival at the end of August.
My background includes more than fifteen years of land management experience, while serving the past ten years as Executive Director at the not-for-profit Rogers Environmental Education Center located in Sherburne, N.Y. I enjoy building bridges (both literally and figuratively) and look forward to bringing my knowledge of grant writing, fundraising, community development, and passion for doing what’s right for our environment to this nearly 50+ year old organization, The Central New York Land Trust.
I was raised in Central New York, received my B.S. from a college in western New York and currently reside with my young family in Cazenovia. I am more than confident in the abilities of the CNY Land Trust staff and thank them for being so welcoming and accepting of me. The CNY Land Trust board of directors has also been very supportive of me in my role and I look forward to growing this organization alongside this amazing team.
This coming year has many exciting changes ahead, including multiple property transfers from Ducks Unlimited to the CNY Land Trust in Oswego County. Thanks to NAWCA “North American Wetlands Conservation Act”, funding has been allocated to restore two properties back to their original state after having been converted to muck farms and onion plantations years ago.
Lastly, we are in the midst of managing one of the largest NYS consolidated funding grants ever received by a non-profit for property acquisition in and around the Skaneateles Lake Watershed through New York’s Water Quality Improvement Program. These grants provide immense opportunity to ensure we acquire key parcels of land that directly impact both the surrounding watershed and the City of Syracuse water supply. However, as an organization we must raise $1.5 million to fulfill the matching requirements of the grants. This will take all of our collective effort to secure and will be the focus of much of our fundraising efforts this year.
I hope to have the opportunity to get to know all of you - our volunteers, donors, partners, and neighbors. I appreciate your continued support of the Central New York Land Trust and look forward to sharing our experiences and news with you as things develop.
Simon M. Solomon
A Barbeque to Remember
Perfect weather and the promise of a near full moon marked the start of our second annual EverGreen EverBlue fundraiser at Bachar Farm. We were joined by new and long-term members of the Central New York Land Trust community who were able to meet and greet under perfect September skies.
Simon Solomon, Executive Director
The proceeds from EverGreen EverBlue help to fund our operational expenses, and allows us to gather with members of our community who share our commitment to conserving Central New York.
For many of you, this year's event was an opportunity to meet our new Executive Director, Simon Solomon, who was introduced by Andy Obernesser, Board Chair. Both Andy and Simon spoke about this new chapter in the land trust's history, looking forward to leading the conservation efforts of the Skaneateles Lake watershed and beyond.
Paul Porter, Director of Stewarship detailed some of the plans specific to the Bachar and Albanese properties, and the significance of these two parcels in the Skaneateles watershed.
Andy Obernesser, Board Chair
Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship
We were joined by generations of the Bachar Family, many of whom grew up at Bachar Farm. They shared fond memories of their years in Skaneateles. The Bachars generously donated a portion of the acquisition price back to the land trust. We are honored to be able to keep this property as a preserve in the watershed of Skaneateles Lake.
"The music was outstanding, and food delicious, but most importantly we were together sharing community and commonality. It was a night to remember." - Rex Ramsgard, Land Steward
MEET OUR EVERGREEN EVERBLUE
Cayuga Tree Services, Inc.
Connecting with Community
One person's journey to make a difference with the Central New York Land Trust
Joby Swerdlow has been involved with environmental concerns since the 1970s, when as a student she participated in the first Save the County walk. An avid conservationist, Joby spent time hiking the many CNY Land Trust sites, but it wasn't until she began having problems accessing the Indian Hill Preserve in Manlius that she reached out to the Trust. She was subsequently invited to attend a stewardship meeting. "This happened at the most opportune moment in my life. I had some free time and was looking for a connection with a community of likeminded people." She has been an active volunteer and supporter of the Land Trust ever since.
Joby's sense of community runs deep. Believing that we all have a duty to make a positive impact, she is a participant in most of our volunteer days, and a recent sponsor of our EverGreen EverBlue fundraiser. "We all have an obligation to find some way to give of ourselves," says Joby. "There is a Talmud teaching that translated into English means 'It is not up to you to finish the task (of repairing the world), but neither may you stop from trying'."
These days, Joby is a retired pathologist, but still assists one morning a week with the Family Care Medical Group. "It keeps my mind sharp," she says. We are lucky to have her with the Land Trust lending a hand, sharing her infectious smile, and promoting a positive world.
This Giving Tuesday we are asking for all of our supporters to consider a gift to the Central New York Land Trust.
This has been a year of great improvements at the Land Trust with new management, increased public outreach, and a new website. In the field, our steward department and volunteers have made improvements to many of our preserves, including installing new stairs and bridges, creating new trails, and undertaking the monumental research and planning phase for the esker repair on Skaneateles Lake.
The physical bridges we built this past summer over fragile watercourses are representative of the work we have done within the organization to link the Land Trust with community organizations, local and State government, and indigenous groups; finding ways to combine our resources and goals to build a thriving network of conservation areas for future generations.
The Land Trust has worked diligently towards acquiring grants this year to help fund infrastructure projects and to acquire strategic properties as part of our ongoing efforts to safeguard the watersheds of Onondaga Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake, Oneida Lake, and Lake Ontario. Unfortunately, these grants are not all-encompassing, and we are left with significant gaps in funding to complete these projects. We are asking you this Giving Tuesday to help us do some more bridge building by filling in those gaps and allowing our work to continue seamlessly.
As a supporter of The Central New York Land Trust, your interest in protecting land and safeguarding water is important to you and your family. We are proud that you have put your faith in us to execute those goals. As you reflect this Giving Tuesday on the future of our natural spaces, we hope you consider partnering with us once again.
This November 29th, all contributions to the Land Trust will be matched by our Board of Directors up to $5,000.00. This extra funding will stretch your contributions and bring us closer to our goals.
Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help our organization grow and expand our reach throughout CNY, protecting over 3,400 acres of land within 51 distinct nature conservation areas. None of this would be possible without you.
The Central New York Land Trust Team
Building Bridges and Connecting Waterways
Staff and Volunteers Installing the Bridge at High Hickory
Staff and Volunteers Installing the Bridge at Three Falls Woods
Staff Completing the Bridge Install at Three Falls Woods
Bridges, culverts and overpasses that were once installed for the sole purpose of allowing humans to maneuver across waterways are now being reassessed with the help of the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) to allow for safe passage of aquatic animals and healthy waterflow through waterways.
This past summer, Paul Porter, Director of Stewardship at the Land Trust, attended a course taught by the NAACC to learn how to evaluate these manmade crossings and determine their effectiveness below the water level. Once certified, participants join a voluntary effort to catalog existing crossings into a database covering a thirteen-state region from Maine to West Virginia. Any trouble spots can then be prioritized, redesigned, and repaired based on need and funding.
Improperly installed bridges can have an immediate impact on aquatic life and their ability to travel to spawning areas. Examples of impediments to water flow and animal movement include culverts that are placed too high in the water and culverts that are too narrow, which are easily blocked by debris - important considerations for the Land Trust as we work to reconnect waterways that have been improperly spanned, and create new bridges on preserves in and around watersheds.
This summer we installed new bridges at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary, Three Falls Woods, and Pleasant Valley Preserve. At High Hickory we installed a small bridge across a stream that leads to Skaneateles Lake. The concern was that continued foot traffic could adversely affect small animals such as salamanders and impact the healthy flow of water. Fortunately, we were able to repurpose a bridge from Camillus Valley for the project. Recent flooding in the valley completely redirected a watercourse, making the bridge unnecessary for that site.
Three Falls Woods had a dramatic facelift and trail extension with the installation of a bridge spanning the top of the falls The bridge was designed by Ramsgard Architectural Design, built by SUNY ESF engineering students, and installed by staff and volunteers. This structure will keep visitors above the waterline, mitigating damage to the ecology of the falls, and allowing for a beautiful view.
Pleasant Valley Preserve underwent the largest transformation this summer with the help of Onondaga Environmental Institute and the Onondaga Lake Recovery Fund. A large bridge replaced the gravel walkway and culvert system that traversed a portion of the west branch of Onondaga Creek, which was consistently plugged by beaver debris. The original culvert was a pinch point for waterflow, flooding the walkway completely and at times blocking animal passage. The new bridge has enabled a healthy flow of water through Onondaga Creek, and unimpeded movement of aquatic life, which can be easily observed from the bridge overlook. It is also a beautiful improvement to the preserve and a focal point for visitors.
If you haven't had an opportunity to visit these sites to see the new constructs, we urge you to get out into the woods and enjoy the views knowing your footfalls are treading a little lighter thanks to this cooperative effort.
Working with NAACC
Completed Pleasant Valley Preserve Bridge
Aerial View of Pleasant Valley Preserve Bridge Install
View From the Pleasant Valley Bridge
Summer Photo Contest Winners
We had a nice selection of photographs to choose from this year, all of which deserve recognition for their perspectives at Central New York Land Trust sites. There was no shortage of inspiration and unique flora and fauna this summer, and you all impressed us with your photographic spin on nature. Thank you everyone for entering. We will be announcing our winter photo contest soon, so dust off those snow shoes and cross country skis!
Our three summer photo contest winners will receive a professional print of their winning image printed by Johnson Camera of Syracuse and framed by Nash's Framing in Auburn. Thank you Johnson Camera and Nash's Framing for donating these prizes.
Taken by Adam Fine at Baltimore Woods
Taken by Joseph Gorman at Pleasant Valley Preserve
Taken by Frank Valls at Pleasant Valley Preserve