The Nature Conservancy in New York is pleased to announce the transfer of a 161-acre property in the Town of Sempronius to the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council (OLWMC). The Nature Conservancy acquired the property in 2021 to help protect clean drinking water and reduce contributors to harmful algal blooms. The project was made possible through grants from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and Water Infrastructure Improvement Act. The transfer of this property makes OLWMC, an inter-municipal council dedicated to the protection of Owasco Lake, a land-owning entity for the first time. It is part of The Nature Conservancy’s ongoing effort to support local community organizations in managing water resources as an essential natural resource and source for public drinking water.
More than 70% of Cayuga County’s drinking water is drawn from Owasco Lake. The protection of the property, which OLWMC will call the Fillmore Nature Preserve, helps protect the lake’s water quality. A study by The Nature Conservancy ranked the property among the 10 most impactful parcels in the Owasco Lake watershed with the greatest effect on water quality if left in their natural states. Fillmore Nature Preserve includes diverse forests and approximately 40 acres of freshwater wetlands, and is located near the birthplace of President Millard Fillmore and Fillmore Glen State Park.
“Clean drinking water is essential, but it’s being threatened by a changing climate. Bigger storms can wash away more sediment and bring more contaminated runoff to our lakes. At the same time, our lakes are getting warmer. The combination of more pollution and warmer lake water leads to more and more harmful algal blooms,” said Olivia Green, The Nature Conservancy’s Finger Lakes water quality specialist. “But nature offers a solution. By protecting wetland systems, we let nature slow down and filter the water that sustains us. We are thrilled to partner with Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council to protect these resources and the health of our communities."
Executive Director of the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council Adam Effler said, “The transfer of this property is a testament to the strong partnership between the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council and The Nature Conservancy. Protecting ecosystem services for the benefit of water quality expands upon the Management Council’s public service initiatives, while simultaneously securing an asset that builds organizational resiliency. We look forward to our new role stewarding the Fillmore Nature Preserve and making its beautiful trails available to the public.”
In addition to providing public drinking water, Owasco Lake is a recreational hub and an economic driver for the region. Residents and visitors rely on it for swimming, boating and fishing, and the surrounding nature trails draw hikers and birders.
The Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council (OLWMC) is an inter-municipal 501(c)3 nonprofit development corporation with representation from municipalities throughout the Owasco Lake Watershed. The mission of the OLWMC is to coordinate actions for protecting and restoring the health of Owasco Lake and its watershed to ensure that Owasco Lake will serve as a source of public drinking water, a recreational asset, an economic driver, and an important natural resource for the well-being of watershed residents and those who benefit from its protection now and for future generations. In pursuit of this mission, the OLWMC actively monitors and evaluates the health of the waters of Owasco Lake and its watershed by supporting targeted research to help identify problem areas, implements projects by partnering with various groups and agencies throughout the Finger Lakes Region, directs the Watershed Inspection and Protection Division to identify and stop activities within the watershed that may result in a decrease of water quality, and strives to provide educational programs that will increase public awareness about the responsible care and protection of the watershed.
To learn more, visit: www.olwmc.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.