The Northeast Wilderness Trust has purchased more than 2,400 acres in the Champlain Valley, the organization’s biggest project in the Adirondack Park to date.
Jon Leibowitz, the trust’s executive director, said the property—dubbed the Eagle Mountain Preserve—will be open to the public for human-powered recreation such as hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, and birdwatching. Motor vehicles and bicycles are not allowed.
The trust closed on the property last Friday after raising more than $1.3 million. It still needs to raise about $400,000 to create a stewardship fund to cover property taxes and management costs.
Eagle Mountain Preserve had been owned by the Rodgers family for several generations. Leibowitz said the family sold the 2,434 acres for the “bargain-sale” price of $1.1 million. The property includes eight or nine peaks above 1,000 feet, five ponds, and extensive wetlands along the North Branch of the Boquet River. Peregrine falcons nest on cliffs on Eagle Mountain.
The land is located west of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain in the town of Chesterfield. The trust hopes to erect a kiosk along Trout Pond Road by the end of this fall. Champlain Area Trails (CATS) ie expected to create a three-mile trail leading from the kiosk to Clear Pond by the summer of 2020. No other trails are in the works, but the public is free to bushwhack.
“People can walk where they want, but we are not putting trails to the other ponds,” Leibowitz told the Explorer at a celebratory gathering after the deal closed.
Headquartered in Vermont, Northeast Wilderness Trust has preserved about 35,000 acres, mostly in New England. Before the Eagle Mountain purchase, it had bought a half-dozen small parcels in the Adirondacks, totaling about 600 acres.
“It was a big lift for our organization,” Leibowitz said of the Eagle Mountain purchase. He hopes to do more conservation deals in the eastern Adirondacks.
Leibowitz said the trust would consider selling Eagle Mountain Preserve to the state only if it is to be managed as a wilderness area. Since the parcel is too small to qualify for the wilderness designation, the trust expects to hold onto it for the foreseeable future.
The Adirondack Land Trust, based in Keene, will hold a conservation easement and help monitor the property.
More information and photos of the property are available at the Northeast Wilderness Trust’s website.