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TILT to purchase land in Clayton, Alexandria Bay with grants

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CLAYTON — The Thousand Islands Land Trust has secured funding to purchase and protect wildlife habitats near Clayton and in Alexandria Bay.

Jake R. Tibbles, the land trust’s new executive director, said the nonprofit secured two North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants totaling $145,040.

The first, a $75,000 grant, will be used for the acquisition and protection of the 81-acre Sweet property just south of Alexandria Bay.

For several months, the trust has been in talks with landowner Brent Sweet, Alexandria Bay, on acquiring the property to expand the Otter Creek Wetland Preserve.

Mr. Tibbles has said that upon the purchase of the land, behind Big M along Route 26, the trust plans to create two trails with benches, picnic tables and interpretive signs along the two-mile stretch.

The trail will include 40 acres of Class 1 wetland and will have vantage points where hikers can get a scenic view of the Larger Otter Creek Preserve and its islands, which cover an area of 108 acres, including the Sweet property.

The second grant, of $70,040, will fund conservation efforts at the S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve, about one mile from the village of Clayton.

In December, the land trust purchased 142.3 acres southeast of the village along Black Creek Road from the S. Gerald Ingerson Trust — managed by Gerald F. Ingerson and Mary Ingerson-Mulchy, Alexandria Bay — for $50,000, according to Jefferson County property sale records.

The preserve — which consists of mature forests, vibrant shrub lands and pristine riparian habitat along McCarn Creek — is vital habitat for wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, land birds and a variety of other wildlife, according to the land trust.

The trust plans eventually to open the preserve to the public for recreational use.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetland conservation projects for the benefit of migratory birds and other wildlife.

The act’s Small Grants Program, for which the land trust applied, is a competitive matching grant that aids the long-term protection, restoration and enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats.

The trust also recently secured two other grants — totaling $22,000 — through the Land Trust Alliance’s state Conservation Partnership Program.

Funded through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, the grants will help purchase the Sweet property and expand the TILTreks & Talks Program — the land trust’s educational and outreach program.

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