For release: Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Partnership Improves Safe, Convenient Access to Conserved Lands and Finger Lakes Trail

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) today announced the opening of a new parking lot in Potato Hill State Forest , in the town of Caroline, in the county of Tompkins.

“DEC appreciates our partnership with Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference,” said DEC Region 7 Director Matthew Marko. “This collaboration is an essential part of our overall efforts to connect New Yorkers and visitors to the great outdoors.”

DEC and FLLT initiated the project to meet public access needs at Potato Hill State Forest and Summerland Farm Nature Preserve on Blackman Hill Road. With support from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, FLLT funded construction of the parking lot on state forest property. DEC designed the parking lot and issued a building permit. It is now open to the public and provides safe access to the Potato Hill State Forest, Summerland Agricultural Reserve (leaving the DEC website), and the Finger Lakes Trail (leaves DEC website), which runs through both properties.

“We are grateful for the commitment of the state and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference,” said FLLT Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “This new parking area will provide safe access to a growing network of conservation lands.”

“The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) (leaves DEC website) is pleased to support the construction of this new parking lot with a grant from our Sidote Trail Preservation Fund,” said Debra Nero, executive director of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. “The parking lot provides secure parking for people hiking this approximately 1,000 mile long portion of the Finger Lakes Trail. The FLTC invites you to park in the parking lot on Blackman Hill Road and take the short hike to the point culmination of FLLT’s Summerland Farm. Preserve and admire the sweeping views of Tompkins and Tioga counties.”

Potato Hill State Forest comprises 915 acres of land and is a popular destination for recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, camping, bird watching, and fishing. The six-acre pond located in the northern part of the forest provides a peaceful landscape as well as valuable habitat for waterfowl, various mammals, snakes, salamanders, frogs, and aquatic invertebrate insects such as dragonflies.

The 140-acre Summerland Agricultural Preserve offers a stunning mix of forest and grassland and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. Bobolinks and Meadowlarks adorn the grassland habitat here, and black bears have been seen roaming the hills. Remnants of old logging roads wind through forested sections of the property, guiding visitors through vast stands of northern hardwoods.

Both properties are part of the Emerald Necklace, an ambitious effort to connect 50,000 acres of existing public space that arcs around Ithaca – from the Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to Hammond Hill and to the Yellow Barn State Forests to the east. These lands are home to 78 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, a nearly 1,000 mile system that covers some of New York’s most scenic land.

The lands of New York State belong to all of us and we all have a responsibility to protect them. DEC reminds New Yorkers to love our New York lands this summer and fall by recreating sustainably, visiting trails less travelled, always practicing Leave No TraceMT, and giving back through volunteer work and stewardship. For more information, visit the DEC website.

New parking lot in Potato Hill State Forest, attributable to Finger Lakes Land Trust

scenic view of grassland and forest
Summerland Farm Nature Preserve seen from the Finger Lakes Trail, attributed to Scott Levine