Nature Conservancy Protects ‘Forest Filters’ in the Finger Lakes

Project expands conserved lands around Hemlock and Honeoye Lakes

Rochester, NY | December 31, 2013

The protected area around two of Central New York’s most pristine Finger Lakes has grown, with The Nature Conservancy’s acquisition of two parcels totaling 179 acres.

The Conservancy had identified the lands—a 154-acre tract in the Town of Conesus and a 25-acre tract in the Town of Canadice—as critical to protect because of their location within larger areas of intact high-quality forest and proximity to key sources of fresh water. Both properties act as natural filters and wildlife corridors, providing the state and region with clean air and water and vital habitat. Like many properties in this area, they were under significant pressure to subdivide and develop.

The larger of the two tracts, generously sold to the Conservancy at a reduced price by landowner Priscilla Touhey, is entirely forested and slopes down to Hemlock Lake. It adjoins an old-growth forest formerly owned by the City of Rochester and now managed by the State of New York as the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. Hemlock and Canadice Lakes provide drinking water for the City of Rochester and are the only Finger Lakes with undeveloped shorelines. Undeveloped land in the Finger Lakes is rare, and protection of these forests will help conserve the source of Rochester’s drinking water.

The smaller tract adjoins the Harriett Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area, a state park that The Nature Conservancy has helped nearly double in size over the last six years. Protecting this piece in the puzzle will better connect Harriett Hollister and the Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area. In the Conservancy’s recent Lake Ontario Migratory Bird Stopover Project, the property area had an abundance of migratory birds compared with other inland sites in the region. The Conservancy intends to transfer this tract to the State at cost.

Initial funding for these acquisitions is from a private donation the Conservancy received to purchase land in the Genesee River watershed. The Western Finger Lakes―Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice and Honeoye―all drain into the Genesee.

“Thanks to this gift and the property owners’ foresight, we’ve been able to conserve an area that gives people access not only to clean water but also to natural beauty―the excitement of watching birds migrating or exploring an ancient forest,” said Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy’s Central & Western New York director. “People will be able to enjoy the benefits of this these special places for generations to come.”

The Nature Conservancy has worked in the Hemlock and Canadice Lakes watershed for decades, directly acquiring more than 1,250 acres of land and collaborating with the City of Rochester and NYS DEC on management and conservation of the newly created Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Kate Frazer
(339) 222-2014


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