Forests, Water, and Air
Protecting 104,000 acres of healthy forests and major watersheds ensures continued clean air and clean water for current and future generations.
The conservation project known as Sable Highlands reached a final milestone when New York State purchased a conservation easement from the Lyme Timber Company on December 24, 2008. The transaction closes out four years of efforts to preserve 104,000 acres once owned by Domtar Industries in the northeastern corner of the Adirondack Park.
In December of 2004, Domtar sold all of its Adirondack holdings in Clinton and Franklin Counties to the Lyme Timber Company and The Nature Conservancy. Working in partnership with Lyme, the Conservancy, and local community leaders, New York State has now fulfilled its agreement to secure the permanent protection of those properties.
Just last week, the state purchased a conservation easement to protect 84,000 acres owned by Lyme Timber. This "working forest" easement promotes sustainable forest management and timber harvesting, restricts residential development and subdivision, and creates a balance of public recreational access and continued private recreational leasing on the property.
A few months ago, the state made an outright purchase of 20,000 acres as new public lands from The Nature Conservancy.
“With both of those transactions now complete, the state continues its exemplary vision and leadership, bolstering the Adirondack Park’s impressive standing as a conservation model for the world,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter.
“What’s more, the state has made another important investment in the forest products industry and the future of the Adirondacks,” added Carr. “Without the state’s conservation easement program, global market forces may have erased the timber industry from the Adirondack landscape.”
In addition to the continuation of sustainable forestry, the conservation easement also includes access to nearly 30,000 acres that have been off-limits to the public for decades, including Sugarloaf Mountain, the Norton and Plumadore Ranges, and Barnes, Grass, Figure Eight, and Fish Hole Ponds. Combined with the 20,000 acres of new state lands, the public now has access to about 50,000 acres in a part of the park that has had limited opportunities for public recreation in the past.
The recent transactions represent budgeted expenses from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. With money provided primarily from a real estate transfer tax, that fund pays for environmental initiatives ranging from landfill closures to water quality improvement projects; open space protections to zoos and interpretive facilities.
Additionally, private philanthropy has played an important role in the success of this project, adding leverage to the state’s investments. Generous individuals have contributed some $4 million to The Nature Conservancy’s Sable Highlands Campaign since 2004, helping to offset the overall costs to conserve such a huge swath of land.
Ecologically, the Sable Highlands project protects priceless resources, including 220 miles of permanent and seasonal streams, 2,600 acres of wetlands, and 20 lakes and ponds in the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain drainages. Many of the soils in that region contain minerals leftover from glacial till that today help to buffer the forests from the damaging impacts of acid rain. And, growing, healthy forests help to filter the air we breathe, and absorb greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
More information about this project can be found online at www.nature.org/adirondacks.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.