Finger Lakes Land Trust campaigns for 100 acres above Canandaigua Lake.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust announced the Canandaigua Vista project — a campaign to raise $650,000 for creation of a nature preserve on more than 100 acres in the town of Canandaigua.

The land west of Route 21 and south of Jones Road boasts scenic views, diverse wildlife habitats and a network of hiking trails. The property at the head of Barnes Gully provides access to open fields, oak-hickory woods and a portion of the gully.

The property is privately owned. The land trust is raising the funds necessary to buy 90 acres outright, acquire two conservation easements on 11 adjacent acres, create public access, and contribute to its stewardship fund to support the site’s long-term management.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” said Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “We have a once in a lifetime chance to secure one of our most scenic spots while at the same time, protecting valuable wildlife habitat and helping to maintain Canandaigua Lake’s water quality.”

An aerial video highlights the scenic area across Route 21 from the town’s McJannett Park rest area, with its views of Canandaigua Lake and stretch of hiking trail that would become a public nature preserve.

The land trust said acquisition of this property will help protect Canandaigua Lake’s water quality by prohibiting development on steep slopes. Maintaining the natural buffers along Barnes Gully and protecting another tributary on the site will also help filter runoff to the lake, the land trust said.

Once the land trust acquires the property, the organization will develop a long-term management plan. That plan will improve public access and build on the existing trail system and scenic overlooks. The land trust also intends to work with the town of Canandaigua on the possibility of linking this conservation area to nearby Onanda and McJannett parks.

In addition to the 90-acre purchase, the land trust negotiated contracts to conserve the 11 adjacent acres with perpetual conservation easements that will buffer the preserve. Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.

The land trust has worked with landowners and communities to protect more than 23,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The land trust owns and manages a network of over 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 140 properties that remain in private ownership.

Past projects in the Canandaigua Lake watershed included working with Ontario County to establish Grimes Glen County Park in Naples, working with the town of South Bristol to create Carolabarb Park, and protecting seven properties on the slopes of Bare Hill.