Rayonier Forest Resources has sold 130,659 acres of forest located almost entirely in the Adirondack Park for $57.5 million to a client of the timberland investment management organization Molpus Woodlands Group. The land is located in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin and Lewis Counties.
The land has traditionally been used for logging and some of the purchase is under New York State conservation easement which allows for fishing, private camp leases, and motorized recreation. Some of the state’s easement provides public access to a 200 feet corridor along more than 26 miles of the Grasse River’s north and middle branches, along with access to about 16 miles of Grasse River tributaries and local roads and snowmobile trails.
Much of the land has been owned by a series of timber management companies, including Emporium Lumber, Draper Lumber, Hancock Timber Resources Group, GMO Renewable Resources, Rayonier Forest Resources and Molpus. It is mostly northern hardwoods and has been certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which has been criticized as a green-washing project. SFI is not acceptable for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council and is the target of an ongoing campaign in favor of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. SFI has been accused of deceptive marketing and using its non-profit status to benefit the private corporations, members of the American Forest and Paper Association, which established SFI in 1994.
Molpus is a Jackson, Mississippi company with an office in Saranac lake. The Watertown Daily Times (WDT) has reported that the land in St. Lawrence County (in the towns of Piercefield, Clare, Pierrepont and Colton) was sold to MWF Adirondacks Limited Liability Corporation for $47.3 million but because there is no mortgage, local municipalities will not see any income from mortgage taxes. According to Piercefield Supervisor Neil W. Pickering, who said he spoke with the sellers, Rayonier intends to focus its holdings in more productive southern and western forests.
Photos: Above, a log yard in Tupper Lake; and below, Adirondack forest communities (courtesy the Adirondack Ecological Center).