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Indian Summer arrives in the park

Champion Lands, Hunting Camps and the DEC

Good news coming out of Albany has been a rare commodity in recent months, but on the rare occasion that good word filters North, I'm pleased to share it.

On Friday, I received a DEC press release that detailed a proposed amendment to easements on the former Champion Paper Company lands. The proposed amendment is great news for hunters and camp owners that for years have leased Champion lands across four Adirondack counties.

The 139,000-acre land acquisition was completed by former Gov. George Pataki for $24.9 million on July 1, 1999. At the time, it was the state's largest preservation purchase in history.

The proposed action calls for a modification of three working forest conservation easements currently held by the DEC. These easements encompass nearly 110,000 acres of industrial forest lands.

The proposed agreement will provide the landowner with a permanent right to lease 220 recreational camp envelopes to hunting and fishing clubs and individuals on the easement lands. Each camp envelope will be limited to one acre in size.

It will also allow permit lessees to use motor vehicles on designated routes to access the leased camps.

In exchange for the easements, Heartland Forestry Fund III, which administers the Champion Lands, will convey the rights and title for 2,661 acres of lands to the state of New York, and will grant the public year-round access to and recreational use of the easement lands, which currently have seasonal restrictions until 2014.

The new 2,661-acre parcel within the Adirondack Park will be added to the state Forest Preserve in the vicinity of the Deer River Primitive Area in Franklin County. Also, a 515-acre parcel outside the Park in Franklin County will become a new State Forest. Together, these parcels will facilitate access to a previously inaccessible segment of Forest Preserve property, which will be open to the public for outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, camping and hiking.

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