By Francesca Krempa
Lake George land conservation continues to play a key part in safeguarding water quality around its 233 miles of watershed.
To protect the scenic lake, the Lake George Land Conservancy — a nonprofit land trust based out of Bolton Landing — has announced two new land acquisitions: one in the Town of Dresden, the other in the Town of Bolton.
LGLC has protected 25 acres on County Route 6 in the Town of Dresden that are home to several main tributaries that flow into the lake, including 1,300 feet of Fairy Brook. The trust will also partner with the Town of Bolton to preserve a 62-acre-parcel known as Bradley’s Lookout, which contains 7 acres of wetlands, several wooded trails, and a 1,000-foot summit overlooking the lake.
Bradley’s Lookout will be added to the Bolton Recreational Hub, a community conservation and recreation attraction created in collaboration by the LGLC, the Town of Bolton and Bolton Landing Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment and addition to Bolton’s Hub Program,” Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover said in a news release. “It connects the Community Center and the Pinnacle as well as Cat and Thomas Mountains” and will give hikers panoramic views of the lake — all with sufficient space for parking.
“The Lake George Land Conservancy is honored to be able to permanently protect this wonderful iconic property,” said LGLC President Michael O’Reilly in the same statement.
These conservation measures are part of the larger goal the LGLC sets out to address: engaging private landowners and the public to permanently protect the nearly 12,000 acres of Lake George wildness and its 6.5 miles of pristine shoreline.
The role land plays in preserving water quality and safeguarding the region in a pivotal one. In Lake George specifically, the watershed is heavily wooded with forests and dense with wetlands that naturally filter sediment and slow runoff into the lake. Hemlocks and streaming corridors also keep the water cool for native flora and fauna to survive in.
In some cases, land development isn’t a bad thing, the conservancy acknowledges. But allowing nature to run its course is what allows the lake to thrive.
“Keeping those areas protected and natural can really make a difference,” explained LGLC Executive Director Jamie Brown. The idea is to protect sensitive lands from new septic tanks or driveways.
“You don’t even have to worry about a storm-water management plan or retention basins or whatever,” Brown said, “because nature will continue to filter the water as is.”
For 30 years, the LGLC has worked with private landowners to protect select surrounding parcels for public and private use. Currently, the organization owns and manages 31 parks and preserves that are open to the public year-round or by special request/restricted access, with nearly 40 miles of trails for activities like hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Pairing conservation with recreation is another goal. Although habitat and water quality are top priorities in acquiring new land, so is community engagement. Having trails where visitors can hike to views of Lake George or other scenic vistas paves the way for environmental education.
“We also look at things from the context of community conservation,” Brown said. “It’s not just for recreational purposes only. It’s more for access to nature so people understand why we’ve protected what we’ve protected.”
In the Lake George region, people are especially invested in their community and appreciative of nature, Brown said. He said residents recognize the watershed as both a natural resource and an economic tourism driver. Ensuring Lake George’s success will continue to be long-term collaborative effort.
“When you look on the lake and see that beautiful water there’s a lot of different things that go into keeping it that way. The protection of land — all the trees, all the wetlands, all the streams — play a very large role in that,” he said.
“It may look like it’s all protected, but it isn’t. And we still have sort of a long way to go in protecting it to make sure that the lake stays clear and pristine like it is.”
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