A Mississippi company has purchased 112,200 acres of timberlands in the northern Adirondacks, making it the largest landowner in the Adirondack Park.
Molpus Woodlands Group bought the land in December, greatly expanding its holdings in the Park. It now owns about 273,000 acres in the Adirondacks. Lyme Timber Company owns 239,500 acres, according to Managing Director Peter Stein. Lyme has sold 121,000 acres in recent years.
The 112,200 acres, located largely in Franklin, St. Lawrence, and Lewis counties, were bought from the Forestland Group. The land was previously owned by Champion International. As a result of a deal with Champion in 1998, New York State owns conservation easements on the tracts that allow logging but prohibit subdivision and development.
A year ago, Molpus owned only thirty thousand acres in the Adirondacks. Then it purchased 130,700 acres—in Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, and Lewis counties—from Rayonier Forest Resources.
“They went from being not much of a player to being one of the largest landowners in the Park almost overnight,” remarked John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
Sheehan said the council’s biggest concern is that Molpus practice environmentally sound forestry.
Headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, Molpus manages about 1.6 million acres of timberlands in seventeen states. Its president, Dick Molpus, had been active in politics and once ran for Mississippi governor as a Democrat. As Mississippi’s secretary of state, he received death threats after issuing a formal apology in 1989 to the families of three young civil-rights activists slain by white supremacists twenty-five years earlier. One of those activists, Andrew Goodman, used to summer with his family in Tupper Lake. Last year a small peak he used to climb was renamed Goodman Mountain.