path for a sustainable future

Protected Lands

The Protected Lands Character Area includes all federal, state and local parks, County forests and cemeteries, as well as wetlands regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Also included in the Protected Lands Character Area are publicly- and privately-held properties with protective covenants or conservation easements that prevent development from occurring.


The Protected Lands Character Area includes locations where, as a result of regulatory protection, development is not permitted, thus protecting their important ecological, recreational or cultural significance within the County. These areas include undeveloped wetlands and forests, formal parks, and active farmland. The primary difference between these areas and the Environmental Reserves Character Area is that Protected Lands already hold some layer of protection from development and have been officially recognized as valuable to the community in its current state.


The greatest threat to the maintenance of these areas is a lack of education and awareness of their individual and collective significance. In certain locations, public access should be enhanced to increase awareness, while other areas should remain untouched to preserve their functionalilty. Where possible, lands currently classified as Environmental Reserves should be afforded more permanent protections and transferred into the Protected Lands Character Area, particularly where properties can be linked to enhance ecosystem connectivity. Further, to assist in the continued protection and maintenance of these lands, a group or organization should be identified to act as a champion for their management and use.

Sample Strategies

  • Educate the community on the important role Protected Lands play in the regional landscape.
  • Identify opportunities to expand Protected Lands where important ecological functions have been identified.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of establishing a connective greenway system linking Protected Lands for recreational purposes and to provide corridors that facilitate wildlife movement and assist with stormwater management.
  • Prevent development that threatens wetlands or subdivides them onto private lots.