Rick Smardon of the Central New York Land Trust (CNYLT) visited Manlius Library on May 22 to talk about what this nonprofit organization does to preserve nature in CNY.
Smardon, a professor emeritus of environmental studies at SUNY ESF and Certified Environmental Professional, has served on the board of the CNYLT since the 1980s and is currently the board president.
CNYLT owns and maintains over 45 natural areas, most of which are open to the public, around Onondaga and Oswego counties. As a land trust, this organization is a 501 c(3) nonprofit with the mission 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, such as with public recreation opportunities.
CNYLT registers with each community every year to maintain property-tax exemption for these natural areas, as well as holding liability insurance across the properties. They also hold and manage conservation easements, a form of perpetual prohibition from development. CNYLT works with the long-term in mind, making a point to avoid disputes with local property owners.
Throughout the US, there are 1,700 land trusts, more than 80 of which are in New York State. Smardon thinks this is the way of the future, because public funds for nature preservation are diminishing. CNYLT was founded in 1972 and was one of the first land trusts in New York. They now have over 250 members.
Smardon brought up three pieces of news, two of which are local to Manlius:
- Great Bear Expansion
This area in Volney is maintained by the Friends of Great Bear. CNYLT was able to acquire the land around Whiskey Island and Northern Great Bear, and they will in turn transfer the land to the Town of Volney. Hundreds of community members contributed to the campaign and are making this land accessible to the public.
- Brickyard Falls Expansion (Manlius)
This project was initiated by a private donor as an addition to an existing CNYLT holding, so that the existing CNYLT holding could have permanently public access to the beauty of Brickyard Falls. The new public access point will be on Quarry Road.
- Three Falls (Manlius)
After a generous donation by local Manlius residents Dr. Harold and Barbara Jones and participation from the Manlius Greenspace Coalition, CNYLT has acquired 80 acres of land around Three Falls Woods. CNYLT is working with the neighboring landowner, a developer, to create non-intrusive public access to these lovely waterfalls from Sweet Road.
Anyone interested in supporting the Central New York Land Trust can donate and become a member or sign up to become a steward, a volunteer to help care for the land.
Thank you to Dr. Smardon and everyone who came out to the library for this wonderful presentation!