The Finger Lakes Land Trust has acquired 14.5 acres on Bare Hill—the iconic promontory overlooking Canandaigua Lake’s eastern shore. The property is located on North Vine Valley Road in the town of Middlesex, Yates County, in close proximity to New York State’s Bare Hill Unique Area.
The Land Trust moved quickly to secure a purchase contract on this property when it was listed for sale in January. The organization was able to make this commitment with private donations for land protection projects within the southern half of the Canandaigua Lake watershed.
With nearly 400 feet of frontage on North Vine Valley Road, the almost entirely wooded property features a mix of mature oak-hickory forest with scattered pines and maples. The portion of the property closest to the road still shows evidence of vineyard rows, but is now covered with groves of black walnut and black locust.
Bare Hill is well known in the region for its scenic views as well as its place in Seneca lore. Legend has it that a mighty serpent encircled an Indian village that once stood there – swallowing residents until it was slain by a brave young boy. In its death throes, the snake cleared the land and swept the hill bare.
“This latest acquisition helps ensure the future of one of our region’s most well-known landmarks,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “Conserving this land also helps maintain the integrity of Canandaigua Lake’s watershed by securing steep slopes that are highly susceptible to erosion.”
This project represents the Land Trust’s sixth acquisition at Bare Hill. With the exception of a single lakefront parcel that will be retained as a nature preserve, land acquired here will ultimately be conveyed to New York State as additions to the adjacent Bare Hill State Unique Area. The Land Trust hopes to work with the state, and other partners, to construct a “shoreline to summit” hiking trail on land that is already under conservation ownership.
Elsewhere within the Canandaigua Lake watershed, the Land Trust has worked in partnership with Ontario County to establish Grimes Glen County Park, and with the Town of South Bristol to create Carolabarb Park. The organization has also partnered with the Town of Canandaigua to protect two farms as well as wetlands off Middle Cheshire Road. Near the south end of Canandaigua Lake, the Land Trust owns and manages hundreds of acres of conservation land and has worked with New York State to conserve Conklin Gully.
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the organization has protected more than 21,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The Land Trust owns and manages a network of 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 142 properties that remain in private ownership.
The Land Trust focuses on protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife, conserving lands that are important for water quality, connecting existing conservation lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and local residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.