The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy today announced that it will list for sale—under conservation easement—approximately 90,500 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. commercial forestland holdings in upstate New York. The sale, being brokered by the real estate company LandVest, is part of the Conservancy’s multi-tiered conservation plan for the 161,000 Adirondack acres it purchased in June 2007.
The Conservancy has, over the last 14 months, been evaluating ecological values and working with partners and a variety of stakeholders to develop a plan for the future of the entire property.
"Our ecological assessments, timber inventories and harvest modeling have helped to inform vibrant discussions with state and local leaders, as well as thousands of stakeholders,” said Michael Carr, executive director of the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. “Protected by a conservation easement, the working forest lands being offered for sale will continue to contribute to the park’s wild feel, intact nature, and economic underpinnings—just as they have for more than a century.”
The plan for the future of the entire 161,000-acre holding is being developed in cooperation with partners like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Open Space Institute, community officials, and other stakeholders. It was projected to take 12 – 18 months from the time of the Conservancy’s purchase, and aims to balance ecological protections with sustainable timber harvesting, while preserving the tradition of hunt club/recreational leases and providing new recreational opportunities for the public.
“A tall order,” says Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, referring to those objectives. “The Conservancy is rising to the challenge, striking a balance that some thought would be impossible."
The approximately 90,500 acres currently listed for sale are being offered subject to a conservation easement and a fiber supply agreement. The former ensures that ecological systems, such as river corridors and high elevation spruce-fir habitats, are protected. The latter helps to keep much of theland available as a pulp wood source for the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls, New York.
The property is currently managed under two “green” certifications: Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Those sustainable forestry practices will continue under the conservation easement.
In a nutshell, the conservation easement, a legally-binding agreement, on the sale lands permits or requires some land uses and activities, and prohibits others, as described here:
|Residential, industrial and |
|Biological inventory work to |
assess the status of natural communities and processes and measure changes over time
|Implementation of a |
biological monitoring program for long-term
|Subdivision of the property |
beyond the five sale blocks
|sustainable timber harvesting||recreational leasing|
|commercial mining and |
|any uses of the property |
that will impair natural communities and species classified as endangered,
rare, or of special concern
|sell or gift the property|
The listing features five sale blocks ranging from 1,691± acres to 58,502± acres. Interested timber investors may submit an offer on one or more of the blocks and must contact LandVest to participate in the bidding process.
Much of the property being offered for sale is currently leased on an annual basis by hunt clubs and families for recreational purposes. This fall the Conservancy is offering current leaseholders an opportunity to renew for three years instead of the typical one-year term. The conservation easement will permit leasing to continue at the option of the new woodlands owner(s).
In the future, the easement will also open some new lands to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities. For now, use of the property remains restricted to leaseholders, Nature Conservancy staff, and woodland managers/contractors. There is no new public access at this time. However, the public is welcome to enjoy the forests where public easement rights-of-way currently exist, such as the popular hiking trail to Blue Mountain and the Blue Ridge Road access to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. The Conservancy will keep the public informed as the status and ownership of the lands change.
To learn more about the lands being offered for sale, visit www.landvest.com, and search for Upper Hudson Woodlands under commercial properties.
From an ecological perspective, the former Finch lands are part of a globally important landscape that represents one of the last best chances anywhere to preserve a large, intact temperate deciduous forest system, one of the most degraded and fragmented forest types on earth.
The Conservancy continues to work with partners and stakeholders to determine the ultimate disposition for the entire property, which touches 27 towns in six counties. The most ecologically significant areas will be afforded the highest levels of protection. Tens of thousands of acres, with tremendous public recreation values, will be sold to New York State as additions to the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. Other areas, such as those being offered for sale with LandVest, will accommodate compatible uses. Some properties, within several hamlets, will be set aside for community purposes.
The combination of new public lands, privately owned and protected working forest lands, and community enhancement parcels will sustain and enhance a wide array of economic activities, as well as protect key natural resources for generations to come.
The announcement about the plan for the northern holdings (83% of the property), jointly released in February 2008 with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is available online at www.nature.org/adirondacks. It covers lands in North Hudson, Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, and Minerva. Each of those town boards has since passed a resolution approving the plan.
For all past announcements and additional information, including a short video and slide shows, about The Nature Conservancy’s historic land purchase in the Adirondacks, visit www.nature.org/adirondacks/finch.
The Adirondack Chapter, based in Keene Valley, New York, currently employs a staff of 25 and has protected 556,572 Adirondack acres since 1971. The Chapter is also a founding partner of High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.
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.