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Friday, July 17, 2009

Finger Lakes Critical Easement from an Interesting Landowner

Jean Pitt
Jean Pitt (photo by Mary Coffin)
OutdoorBlips: vote it up!
based on an article in the Finger Lakes Trail News, Summer 2009, by Mary Coffin

A small, but critical, segment of the Finger Lakes / North Country Trail is now permanently protected through an easement granted by Mrs. Jean Pitt of Delphi Falls, New York.

The easement allows passage of the trail across 2/3 of a mile which connects the Onondaga Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail to the Highland Forest County Park. From Highland Forest, the North Country Trail proceeds to the east.

Mrs. Pitt (nee Grimes) has emerged as one of the more colorful landowners along the trail. Her father was a son of slaves, and he was the first African-American to purchase land in the town of Pompey. The Grimes family became prosperous farmers, despite the difficulties facing black families in the early 20th century. Using information from Cornell University publications the family raised high-quality produce and eggs, often purchased by Syracuse University.

The land of her childhood memories is important to Jean. She recalls wildflowers and berry picking. She mentioned a year where pockets of late snow allowed the family to make ice cream to eat with their berries.

Jean went on to Syracuse University, and then to Case Western for graduate studies. She had a forty-year career as Director of Social Services at the VA hospital in Syracuse.

Generally speaking, the Finger Lakes Trail has led the way in teaching the North Country Trail folks how to build relationships with landowners. Hikers can undo those relationships quickly when they ignore landowner requests, such as "no camping," "no passage during hunting season," etc. Good trail courtesy will help ensure that the trail will be there for hikers far into the future. In many cases, the trail is allowed across private property only by a handshake agreement. One disrespectful hiker can sour a landowner for a long time.

We all thank people like Jean Pitt who value trails and are willing to enter into a legal arrangement to preserve connections for hikers.

Finger Lakes Trail

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