From: Chris Garifo, Watertown Daily Times
Published January 6, 2005 12:00 AM

New York to Get Easements on 104,000 Acres of Adirondack Forest

ALBANY, N.Y. — The state will acquire easements on more than 104,000 acres of Adirondack forest lands in what is described as the third largest land acquisition in New York history.


"During the past ten years, New York has led the nation in land conservation efforts, successfully protecting nearly 800,000 acres of open space for future generations," said Gov. George E. Pataki in a press release Tuesday announcing the acquisition. "Today's agreement marks another milestone in our protection of the Adirondack Park that will preserve more than 100,000 acres of prime forest land and open up new public recreational access, while continuing to sustain a critical aspect of the north country's economy."


The deal covers the Sable Highlands region of Franklin and Clinton counties in the 6 million-acre park.


The state will acquire easements on more than 84,000 acres of forest land that the Lyme Timber Co., Hanover, N.H., bought from Domtar Industries, a Canadian company, for $17.47 million. Lyme Timber will manage the property and harvest its timber while maintaining the property's current Forest Stewardship Council certification, considered the "gold standard" for sustainable forest management.


Lyme Timber, a 29-year-old limited partnership that specializes in the acquisition of large forest tracts, will hire 30 to 50 foresters, loggers and truckers to harvest and transport timber from the property, maintaining jobs for contractors previously employed by Domtar.


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The state also will acquire 19,960 acres that the Nature Conservancy bought from Domtar for nearly $6.26 million.


Domtar, a Montreal-based producer of wood and paper products, has owned and managed the timberlands being acquired in the deal since 1962 and is being paid $23.73 million for the entire 104,400 acres. Domtar and Lyme Timber have a long-term fiber supply agreement that will ensure that wood fiber produced from the land will continue to be provided to Domtar facilities.


Of the Nature Conservancy lands, 16,918 acres will be added to the State Forest Preserve including Lyon Mountain and its state fire tower, the highest peak in the northern region of the park, and a portion of Ellenberg Mountain. The remaining 3,042 acres, located in the town of Dannemora, will become state forest land.


The state's cost for the easements will depend on a state-administered appraisal process. Local property taxes will continue to be paid on all of the properties.


"I'm sure many people will be excited by the vast new recreational opportunities this land deal will create for area residents and tourists," said state Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little, R-Queensbury. "It's a balanced plan that also will help sustain a critical component of our north country economy, timber harvesting, while ensuring property taxes critical to local governments continue to be paid."


The agreement requires sustainable forest management and timber harvesting on the Lyme Timber easement, prohibits residential development and restricts subdivision, and creates a balance of public recreational access and continued traditional private recreational leasing on the property.


The agreement provides full public recreation rights to more than 47,000 acres of lands and waters that are not under public lease agreement and have not previously been open to the public. Public recreational opportunities will include hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.


Partial public recreation rights, including opening more than 44 miles of recreational corridors for public motorized access, will be acquired on more than 56,000 acres of Lyme Timber's lands that are currently leased to private hunting clubs. The agreement also permanently secures public hiking trails on Lyon Mountain, Owls Head and the Norton Range. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will prepare management plans to administer public uses of the property.


Lyme Timber is retaining the right to maintain private recreational leases, and no hunting clubs on its land will be eliminated. Public access to leased lands will be allowed on several long-distance roads and trails designated for public use by snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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