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Finger Lakes Museum receives additional acreage ADVERTISEMENT

Finger Lakes Museum receives additional acreage

KEUKA PARK--The Finger Lakes Museum has more than doubled the size of its campus in Branchport with the donation of additional wetlands.
Thanks to a gift of land donated by sisters Anne Salisbury and Molly Sujan and to a cash contribution from their neighbors Rolf Zerges and his wife Lynda Rummel, the museum now owns the 16-acre wetland adjacent to Crescent Beach at the north end of the west branch of Keuka Lake. The parcel comes with more than 1,400 feet of water frontage on Sugar Creek, which is a navigable inlet to the lake.
The sisters donated half of their property as a gift to the museum while Zerges and Rummel purchased and donated the other half. Zerges is a museum trustee. They also funded the closing costs and title transfer fees. The legal transaction was handled by Penn Yan attorney Donald Schneider, who donated his fee for professional services to the museum as a contribution.
The parcel, which is being named the Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve in honor of the sisters' father and grandmother, is deed-restricted for use as wildlife preserve and will only be used for biological studies and educational programs by the museum. A variety of bird and waterfowl species as well as mammals like beavers, foxes and mink already inhabit the wetland, while bald eagles and ospreys perch there on occasion. It is also home to the somewhat rare soft-shelled turtle.
The Finger Lakes Museum plans to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Nature Conservancy to develop a boardwalk trail, wildlife observation platform and pavilion at the site. When added to its present 13-acre campus, the acquisition gives the museum a 29-acre presence in Branchport. The two parcels are juxtaposed on opposite sides of Sugar Creek and Route 54A.
"We are so thrilled that the wetlands will be in the hands of people who share our love of nature and specifically our Finger Lakes world," said Salisbury and Sujan in a joint statement. "Our father and grandmother would be delighted with this future for their land. We look forward to walking the trail and boardwalk with our grandchildren."
Word of the land transfer follows one week after an announcement that the Finger Lakes Museum is relocating its entire project to its Branchport Campus, the site of the former Branchport elementary school. It had previously planned to build in Keuka Lake State Park.
"We are excited by this very generous gift of land from our own friends and neighbors and we look forward to creating educational programs that will enable us to teach and preserve at the same time," Museum Executive Director Phil Lentini said.

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