Looking back on sales and conservation
By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park’s unique mix of public and private lands saw new and old parcels getting attention this year. There were sales, easements and land management news across the 6 million acres.
The Adirondack Land Trust made some significant purchases including 137 acres in St. Huberts near the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, with plans to sell to the state for forest preserve. The parcel has trails to Snow, Rooster Comb, the Wolfjaws and other mountains within the High Peaks Wilderness. An iconic view of the High Peaks off of Route 73 outside Lake Placid was also purchased by the trust. The public will be allowed to pull off the road and take in the scenic grassland, but the majority of the 187 acres is closed to the public while a recreation and conservation plan is drafted. The land trust also purchased a conservation easement on nearly 300 acres in Willsboro, including shoreline along the Boquet River.
The Northeast Wilderness Trust purchased 1,775 acres in Essex County to form the Moriah Wilderness Preserve, part of a wildlife corridor between the Adirondack High Peaks and Lake Champlain. The trust also purchased over 1,000 acres in the Five Ponds Wilderness called Bear Pond Forest.
A couple of private property owners made news this year including a Florida real estate developer, who purchased a 945-acre former Boy Scout camp in Fort Ann. John Hendrickson, the widower of Marylou Whitney, also posted for sale his former 58-acre summer home, Camp-on-a-Point on Little Tupper Lake. Hendrickson said he’s still actively seeking a buyer of the 36,000-acre Whitney Park in Long Lake. While environmental groups would like to see the state purchase the remainder of Whitney Park, Hendrickson said he will not sell it to New York.
Existing forest preserve lands received scrutiny this year, too. The Adirondack Park Agency announced a package of relatively new state lands to receive zoning classifications, and to make changes to zoning and mapping of some existing parcels. It is expected the agency will adopt those classifications in 2024. The state Department of Environmental Conservation also announced a new tree-cutting policy on forest preserve lands, along with other management and work plan changes. The policy is the result of a more than decade-long lawsuit over some community connector snowmobile trails that were planned in the park.
The Explorer took a deep dive into the state’s progress in land management planning this year. It found more than 782,000 acres of forest preserve lands are without unit management plans, documents required before most recreational or natural resource protection projects can be undertaken. The Explorer also revisited the state’s lack of carrying capacity studies on water bodies. Those would indicate the number of motorized vessels a water body could withstand before seeing negative impacts. The state has made some progress this year on unit management plans, most notably collecting feedback on one for John Brown Farm in North Elba. The Adirondack Park Agency, charged with long-range planning in the park, expects more to come forward in 2024 including possibly Debar Mountain Wild Forest.
Top photo is a view of the High Peaks from Adirondack Loj Road. Photo by John DiGiacomo, courtesy of Adirondack Land Trust