An area seven times the size of Manhattan – more than 100,000 acres - was purchased for protection in 2004, thanks to an innovative deal between The Lyme Timber Company and The Nature Conservancy. Now four years later in 2008, the project has reached completion: New York State has protected 104,000 acres of the Sable Highlands using a combination of land protection tools.
This land, purchased from Domtar Industries Inc., was one of the largest unprotected properties in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. It is also one of the last remaining opportunities in the Northeastern United States to save such a large parcel of intact forestland.
According to renowned author Bill McKibben, the Adirondack Park is the “most important experiment in nature conservation anywhere on the planet.”
Yet, the northernmost section of the Park, near the Canadian border, remains extremely vulnerable to unsustainable forestry practices and other types of incompatible development.
This land deal will help to alleviate those threats. It includes agreements with New York State that will conserve ecologically-significant natural resources, sustain forestry jobs, preserve traditional land uses such as hunting and fishing, and create new public recreation opportunities.
The project conserves critical habitat for wide-ranging mammals such as moose, black bear and fisher. Also preserved are 220 miles of permanent and seasonal streams, some of which harbor native brook trout and other aquatic species, and 20 lakes and ponds with 16 miles of undeveloped shoreline. This newly-protected area also contains important habitat for the Bicknell’s thrush, a species listed as of special concern by New York State.
The 104,500 acre deal includes such natural gems as:
- Lyon Mountain: A 14,400-acre tract with high-quality spruce-fir forests that provides habitat for Bicknell’s thrush. The summit of Lyon Mountain, home to a state fire tower, is the highest in this part of the Adirondack Park and offers hikers a panoramic view of the surrounding lands. The mountain is also ideal for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.
- Ellenburg Mountain: A largely intact 1,700-acre tract of roadless forest that adjoins 7,100 acres of Forest Preserve lands. Access via the Smith Road will make it easier for hunters and hikers to enjoy this property.
- Whistle Pond/Keniston Meadows: This 920-acre tract adjoins existing state Forest Preserve.
- East Chazy Lake: This 2,900-acre tract, with one mile of undeveloped shoreline, adjoins 1,091 acres of Forest Preserve, keeping the natural splendor of the southern section of Chazy Lake and its associated wetlands intact for paddlers and boaters to enjoy.
In addition, the project is a vital piece in the Conservancy’s global forest initiative. The Nature Conservancy advances innovative and sustainable forest management solutions at the scale of the problem – global to local – for the benefit of both people and nature. We work with governments, communities, corporations and landowners to protect core forest reserves and to ensure the responsible management of “working forests” that give us timber, jobs, sustainable economies, wildlife habitat, fresh water and a stable climate.
This acquisition ensures that these lands will remain open to the public. The project will also create new public access to more than 47,000 acres of lands and waters. “The Adirondacks have long been a haven of serenity and beauty for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world,” said Mike Carr, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. “The Nature Conservancy is delighted to be a part of a project that will ensure that people will continue to have a place to retreat and recall their connection with nature."
Lyon Mountain is a tremendous resource for hikers and also provides habitat for Bicknell's thrush, a migratory songbird listed by New York State as a "species of special concern."
The Sable Highlands conservation project includes more than 2,600 acres of ecologically-significant wetlands.
Protecting 104,000 acres of healthy forests and major watersheds ensures continued clean air and clean water for current and future generations.