The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and The Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) has announced the protection of more than 182 acres of significant watershed lands in the Town of Clayton, Jefferson County, as part of the state’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program.
It’s hoped the acquisition and conservation easements will help protect the surface water quality of the St. Lawrence River, a source of public drinking water for thousands of people in the region.
The St. Lawrence River is a drinking water supply for a number of communities in the region, and as shoreline development and agricultural expansion continue, the susceptibility for water contamination grows.
TILT is focusing its conservation efforts under this state WQIP project to help preserve the River’s Grindstone and Picton islands. TILT has acquired easements and acreage totaling approximately 182 acres across five parcels that contain natural vegetated shoreline buffers and coastal marsh habitats that are expected to be conserved in perpetuity to ensure the protection of valuable drinking water supply:
- Deedy: This 2018 conservation easement in the Town of Clayton was a full donation to TILT for source water protection in perpetuity. Ken Deedy, one of TILT’s founders, along with his nephew, Matthew M. Deedy, donated an easement on nearly 26 acres of their 31-acre property on Grindstone Island. The easement was implemented to limit subdivision, development, mining, and other major disturbances to the land’s source water value and sensitive ecological and aesthetic qualities. The easement-protected forests, granite outcrops, and undeveloped shorelines provide habitat for countless species of native flora and fauna, and contribute to the region’s scenic beauty.
- Ramseier: This conservation easement on approximately nine acres in the Town of Clayton was acquired for $41,500. It abuts TILT’s Heineman Songbird Forest at the foot of Grindstone island. The easement maintains the natural beauty of the undeveloped shoreline near the Picton Channel, as well as a coastal marsh and its upland buffer which are both critical to protecting the drinking water source;
- Rusho: This 67-acre parcel was acquired for $115,000. Situated between Delaney Bay and TILT’s Rusho Farm Preserve on Grindstone Island, the Rusho property’s forested riparian habitat and marsh fringes provide unparalleled source water protection value; and
- Picton III and IV: Picton III is a conservation easement on approximately 32 acres that was also a full donation to TILT. Picton IV is a 49-acre conservation easement partially donated to TILT. Picton island’s array of mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, coastal wetlands, and granite rock outcroppings comprise a vast diversity of habitat types and terrain variations that protect the water quality of the St. Lawrence. The unfragmented forest acts as a habitat corridor, providing connectivity across the Frontenac Arch.
DEC awarded TILT a $555,571 WQIP grant to use toward the protection of these parcels and two other easements in progress in the Thousand Islands region.
Photo of Rusho parcel courtesy TILT.