Conservancy selling forest lands with protection

KEENE VALLEY The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy announced Aug. 21 that it is selling about 90,500 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. commercial forest land holdings in upstate New York. The land is part of 161,000 total acres purchased by the Conservancy in June 2007, which touches 27 towns in six different counties. The former forestland is home to more than 35 species considered rare to New York State. Though they have expressed a desire to sell some of that land back to the state to be included in the forever wild forest preserve, this section will likely be sold privately, but with an agreement that will ensure its protection to some degree. The approximately 90,500 acres currently listed for sale are being offered subject to a conservation easement and a 20-year fiber supply agreement. The former ensures that ecological systems, such as river corridors and high elevation spruce-fir habitats, are protected. The latter will keep much of the land available as a pulp wood source for the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls. Protected by a conservation easement, the working forest lands being offered for sale will continue to contribute to the parks wild feel, intact nature, and economic underpinnings, said Michael Carr, executive director of the Conservancys Adirondack Chapter just as they have for more than a century. Split into five sale blocks, the two largest sections for sale include nearly 73,000 acres in the towns of Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake. Much of the property is currently leased on an annual basis by hunt clubs and families for recreational purposes. The conservation easement will permit leasing to continue at the option of the new owners. Working with partners such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, Open Spaces Institute, and other stakeholders, the Conservancy has, over the last 14 months, been developing a plan for propertys future. The plan 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, said Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute. The Conservancy is rising to the challenge, striking a balance that some thought would be impossible. For now, use of the property remains restricted to leaseholders, Nature Conservancy staff, and woodland contractors. In the future, however, the easement will also open some of the land to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities.

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