Finger Lakes Land Trust shifts priorities to meet growing conservation needs across its vast region

Challenges and successes of Finger Lakes Land Trust were the focus of a recent presentation by the land trust’s Director of Land Protection, Zachary Odell. Odell, who has been with the land trust for five years, brings experience from a decade working for The Nature Conservancy and before that, in education as an earth science and biology teacher.

The nonprofit, working with landowners and communities, has protected more than 20,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, gorges, forest, and farmland. The organization preserves more than 1,000 acres a year in the 12-county region. That encompasses 11 Finger Lakes and a significant portion of the Southern Tier.

Preservation goals can vary between communities and sections of the region, posing challenges.

Based on a recent shuffling of priorities after months of research and visiting communities throughout the region, the land trust is putting additional focus on the economy, tourism and “what we consume,” Odell said.

The goal is to be “flexible but focused,” he said.

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