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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adirondack Council: Protect Poke-o tract

Burnt Pond cropped

A view across Burnt Pond. Photo courtesy of LandVest.

The Adirondack Council wants the state to purchase or otherwise protect a 2,257-acre parcel near Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain that is on the market for $2,275,000.

Dubbed Burnt Pond Forest, the tract lies just southwest of Poke-o-Moonshine, bordering state Forest Preserve. It is being marketed by LandVest, a real-estate company that deals in timberlands the Northeast.

Inside the fire tower on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain. Photo by Phil Brown.

Inside the fire tower on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain. Photo by Phil Brown.

In an online brochure, LandVest says the property contains six peaks, several trout streams, an eighteen-acre pond, and a trail system. The brochure touts the property’s timber value but also suggests that the pond would be suitable “for the development of a recreational cabin or second home.”

Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said the environmental group would like the state to either purchase the property outright or buy an easement that would forbid development. “We would like to see it protected as forestland with public recreation,” he told the Explorer.

The council first called for the protection of this land in 1990, in one of its “2020 Vision” reports, subtitled “Realizing the Recreational Potential of Adirondack Wild Forests.” Written by the guidebook author Barbara McMartin, the report recommended a variety of land acquisitions to expand the Preserve’s Wild Forest Areas. (A companion report focused on Wilderness Areas.)

McMartin, who died in 2005, recommended that the state purchase 3,660 acres north and west of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, a popular hiking and rock-climbing venue. She said Poke-o, which the state owns, “is just one of a cluster of mountains with exposed rock ledges, the nucleus of what could be a splendid hiking and climbing area.”

The Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century also recommended in 1990 that the state acquire land around Poke-o. The commission was headed by George Davis, who also oversaw the publication of the council’s 2020 Vision reports.

Burnt Pond Forest overlaps the tract eyed by McMartin and the commission. A comparison of maps suggests that more than half of Burnt Pond Forest’s acreage was targeted for the Forest Preserve.

Champlain Area Trails (CATS) also wants the state to purchase or protect the land on the market. Chris Maron, the group’s executive director, said the property is ideal for hiking and cross-country skiing. He noted that it would provide an alternative hiking route to the fire tower on Poke-o-Moonshine’s summit.

Dave Spiers, a LandVest broker, said the investment group that owns the property would be willing to sell tract to the state. “They’d be open to anybody who wants to make an offer,” he said.

It appears, though, that Burnt Pond Forest is not on the radar screen of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Asked if DEC would have any interest in purchasing the property, spokesman David Winchell replied in an e-mail that the department is not familiar with it.

“The owner has not approached us about selling it to the state,” Winchell said, “nor is the parcel listed as a specific priority project in the Open Space Conservation Plan.”

Sheehan, however, noted that the state has expressed interest in protecting land in the Champlain Valley, where Poke-o sits. He said the council will urge DEC’s regional open-space committee to take steps to protect Burnt Pond Forest.

Given the state’s dismal fiscal condition, some Adirondack politicians have called for a moratorium on the acquisition of land for the Forest Preserve. Sheehan, however, said the parcel in question is small enough that the state may be able to afford it. If not, he said, an easement could be acquired for less than half of the purchase price.

Click here to read LandVest’s marketing materials and view photos of the property.

Click here to read my article on Adirondack Almanack about other timberlands marketed by LandVest.

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

3 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    If the state could purchase some of these parcels and not be forced to place them in the Forest Preserve maybe they could protect more? They could buy the land and then lease it for recreational use. Traditionally that has been done by hunters and fishermen but it could be done by hikers and paddlers as well. Why not? The state could protect the land and then pay for it with the subsequent revenue.

  2. Phil says:

    Paul, I doubt many hikers would pay to hike that land when there is Forest Preserve nearby that can be hiked for free. It would make more sense for hunters, as they then would have exclusive use of the land. But I don’t see this happening. For one thing, it probably would run into legal objections. State campgrounds notwithstanding, state law says the Forest Preserve “shall be forever reserved, maintained and cared for as ground open for the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure.”

  3. Paul says:

    Phil, For sure. They could never do it. It was more of a thought exercise. It could maybe work with the right pond or lake for some not with this tract I agree. Some of the lease parcels we see now are becoming more family oriented recreation parcels rather than hunting clubs. That could be a trend. Some public parcels don’t offer much privacy in some cases these days.

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