Deal will benefit wildlife crossing the St. Lawrence River
By Mike Lynch
A 1,072-acre Jefferson County reserve in the Algonquin to Adirondacks Corridor has been placed in a forever-wild conservation easement.
Owned by the Indian River Lakes Conservancy, the Grand Lake Reserve is located about eight miles east of Alexandria Bay on the St. Lawrence River and more than 30 miles northwest of the Adirondack Park.
The easement prohibits development and logging and allows the land to return to a “wilderness” state. It is held by the Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT), a Vermont-based nonprofit land trust.
“Being at the center of the A2A, protection of special places like the Grand Lake Reserve is critical to ensuring the potential for wildlife movement across the St. Lawrence,” said Caitlin Mather, land protection manager at Northeast Wilderness Trust.
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The Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is roughly 165 miles northwest of the Adirondack Park. Wildlife advocates say the corridor between the parks contains crucial habitat for species traveling within the region and potentially the protected lands. Large parts of the corridor are heavily developed.
A2A contains about 17,000 square miles in the U.S. and 23,000 miles in Canada.
The Grand Lake Reserve was created in 2003 with a donation of 800 acres. It is located between the Grass and Butterfield lakes and includes more than five miles of shoreline.
The reserve is home to nine uncommon dragonfly and damselfly species and the declining whip-poor-will, according to NEWT.
The reserve is open to the public and includes trails for hiking and access for boating. Hunting is allowed with permission. The use of lead ammunition, trapping, hunting predators and other restrictions apply to the land.
“We are pleased to be part of the Wildlands Partnership at the Northeast Wilderness Trust. Access to this program and the forever-wild easement protection at the Grand Lake Reserve supports our conservation goals and gives us a chance to educate visitors on the importance of wild places and permanency,” said James “Wylie” Huffman, executive director of the Indian River Lakes Conservancy.
Northeast Wilderness Trust has been focusing on protecting land in the A2A corridor. Last fall, it purchased 1,400 acres in St. Lawrence County to create the Grasse River Wilderness Preserve. In January, the organization announced it had purchased a roughly 1,050-acre inholding in the Five Ponds Wilderness.