When did this project start?
In 2007, a private equity firm purchased Finch, Pruyn & Co.’s manufacturing assets in Glens Falls; The Nature Conservancy purchased the company’s Adirondack forestlands—161,000 acres in all, featuring 415 miles of rivers and streams, 300 lakes and ponds, 90 mountain peaks and 16,000 acres of wetlands. The paper mill now operates under the name Finch Paper, and the Conservancy has been steadily implementing a thoughtful conservation plan for the forests.
What does the plan look like?
The Nature Conservancy’s local Adirondack Chapter and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in consultation with a variety of interest groups and community leaders, have agreed to conserve and protect these lands as follows:
- 92,000 acres will continue to be working forests with sustainable logging;
- 65,000 acres will be transferred to the state to become part of the Forest Preserve;
- 1,100 acres will be set aside for community purposes in three towns.
Where are these lands located?
The lands touch six counties and 27 towns in the Adirondacks, with more than 80% of the property in these five towns: North Hudson, Minerva, Newcomb, Indian Lake and Long Lake.
Have any stages of the plan been completed yet?
Yes. As of December 2010, 92,000 acres of commercial timberlands, now owned by a timber company, have been protected by a land preservation agreement called a conservation easement. The easement keeps the land in sustainable forestry, allows for continued recreational leasing, and secures some public access to places identified as important to local communities, including snowmobile connector trails in nearly a dozen towns.
Additionally, the towns of Newcomb and Long Lake in 2012 purchased parcels from the Conservancy for community purposes, and 1,700 acres of lands re-acquired by Finch in 2010 are now protected by conservation easement.
In December, 2012, New York acquired from the Conservancy the 18,300-acre Chain Lakes-Hudson River parcel in the towns of Newcomb and Minerva. Check out our video from the first day the Chain Lakes were open for public access.
In April, 2013, New York acquired from the Conservancy 9,885 acres, including the Indian River and OK Slip Falls-Blue Ledge tracts with a combined total of more than four miles of Hudson River shoreline and along the most popular whitewater route in the state.
In 2014, the Conservancy transferred 15 parcels to New York State. These new public lands include a popular mountain biking area near Saratoga Springs, an exposed cliff in Indian Lake now featured in a new rock climbing guide book, a large tract adjacent to the High Peaks Wilderness in Newcomb, as well as a mile long stretch of the Hudson River with “Mouse Rock” a geographic feature that helps rafting guides gauge water levels.
When will the rest of the project be completed?
As announced by Governor Cuomo in August of 2012, key properties will transfer in stages over the next five years to NYSDEC. These tracts fall within 13 of the 27 towns involved in the overall project.
Why protect these forests?
Through this project we are conserving forest lands that are vital to our health and quality of life. Our local forests in general provide natural filters for our air and water, helping to ensure that we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Protecting these forests helps to ensure that future generations can enjoy them and reap the same benefits we do.
Who will benefit from this conservation effort?
This plan reflects a balanced and thoughtful approach that meets the needs of loggers, wildlife, local businesses, and the tens of thousands of local residents and millions of visitors who use our forests for recreation.
Does the project bolster forestry-related jobs?
The carefully considered plan meets the needs of loggers and other forest professionals by ensuring that more than half of the land will continue to be available for sustainable timber harvest operations.
Will any of the property become available for me to use?
Yes. All of the property to be transferred to the state in coming years has been closed to the public, but will become open and available to everyone for hunting, hiking, fishing and other recreational uses, and some new snowmobile trails will be created.
What are some of the places I can look forward to visiting?
- OK Slip Falls, in Indian Lake (new trail to overlook of falls now open)
- Essex Chain of Lakes, in Minerva and Newcomb (now open for paddling and camping)
- Thousand Acre Swamp, in Edinburg
- Wild upper reaches of our state’s longest river, the Hudson, and key tributaries like the Cedar and Indian Rivers (trails to both rivers now open)
- Boreas Ponds, at the southern edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, in North Hudson
What about the hunt clubs?
Most of the land to be transferred to NYS is currently leased for exclusive use by private hunt clubs. Though these clubs will have to relocate to other privately owned forests, the plan allows for a 10-year transition (2008-2018) and ensures members will still have these lands to hunt on. (Several years ago, the Conservancy offered all of the clubs affected by the pending transfers to NYS an opportunity to relocate camps onto adjacent or nearby conservation easement lands.)