When the state signed a deal a decade ago to protect 139,000 acres owned by Champion International, Adirondack residents complained that it called for the demolition of hunting camps that had been in use for many years.
As a result, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to modify the deal to allow the 220 camps to remain. In exchange, the current owner, Heartland Forestland Fund III, will donate 2,661 acres to the state. The company supplements its timber revenue by leasing land to hunting clubs.
In 1999, the state bought 29,000 acres outright from Champion and protected the remaining 110,000 acres via conservation easements that prohibit development but permit logging.
The original deal required the camps to be demolished after June 30, 2014. Under DEC’s proposal, released today (Tuesday), they will be allowed to remain indefinitely. Each camp will have a one-acre footprint that will remain off limits to the public. The rest of the land will be open for public recreation.
The land to be given the state includes a 2,146-parcel near the Deer River in the northern Adirondack Park. Most of the Deer River corridor within the Park was purchased from Champion in the 1999 deal and is now called the Deer River Primitive Area. The new parcel will be added to this Forest Preserve tract. Also, a 515-acre parcel will be added to the Deer River State Forest just north of the Park.
Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said the modified agreement will benefit the Forest Preserve, the hunters, and Heartland. “We’re not thrilled that they reopened an easement that the state settled a decade ago, but we can live with the result,” he said.
The modifications must be approved by the state attorney general and the state comptroller. DEC will be taking public comments on the proposal until December 11. Comments may be e-mailed to Heather Carl at HFF3DEIS@gw.dec.state.ny.us.
Click the links below for PDF files of DEC’s announcement and details of the proposal.