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State DEC working with Saranac on recreation plan for Sable Highlands

SARANAC - Four years ago, land owned by Domtar Industries for more than 40 years was sold to Chateaugay Woodlands LLC. Following the sale, the state Department of Conservation purchased rights from them for recreational purposes. In a meeting held May 6, the public had a chance to weigh-in on those plans.

After purchasing the land, known as Sable Highlands, from Domtar Industries, Chateaugay Woodlands LLC entered into a contract with the DEC to sell a conservation easement on the approximately 84,000 acres of land.

In order to understand what a conservation easement is, Sean Reynolds, a forester with NYSDEC said to imagine holding a bundle of pencils.

"Those pencils represent the various rights that are included in the piece of property," he explained. "There's a whole litany of rights. There's water rights, mineral rights, timber rights, the right for the landowner to lease to private recreation clubs, public recreation rights, there's a whole long list."

Under a conservation easement plan, the DEC purchased some of those rights to allow for public recreation on about 28,000 acres of the land.

Some of the plans for the land, which is referred to as the Interim Recreation Management Plan, include hunting, fishing, trapping, nature appreciation, wildlife viewing, photography, horseback riding, hiking, and opportunities for people with disabilities.

The reason for the May 6 meeting was for the DEC to explain to the public what was happening with the lands and for them to ask questions and make comments on what they hope to see happen on the acreage.

There was some hesitation from the public, including one woman who was worried about added traffic on the back road she lives on, which may create more problems with the road that's already in poor condition.

"I want to know what the impact of all of this development ... is going to have on our road, as far as traffic," she said. "Because we get enough traffic in the wintertime."

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