Last week the Watertown Daily Times reported that Lassiter Properties had put on the market nearly 2,300 acres in and near the Adirondack Park.
In 1988, Lassiter bought more than ninety-five thousand acres in the North Country, but it has since sold most of its holdings to the state and to other timber companies.
Most of the 2,300 acres now on the market are located on three tracts just outside the Park in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. The largest tract, some 1,930 acres, includes a stretch of the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River.
A fourth tract, comprising nearly ninety acres, is located just inside the Park on the Number Four Road east of Lowville. It includes a small pond.
The Adirondack parcel has not been on the radar screen of conservationists. The Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century did not recommend that the state either purchase the land or protect it by conservation easement. It is zoned Low-Intensity Use, which allows for more development than is typically permitted on timberlands.
Lassiter is selling the four tracts (dubbed the Oswegatchie Forest) for $2.6 million through LandVest, a real-estate company that deals in timberlands throughout the Northeast.
Click here for more details and photos on the LandVest website.
As it happens, LandVest also has two other large tracts of Adirondack forest on the market, totaling more than 2,800 acres.
The Burnt Pond Forest tract comprises 2,257 acres bordering state land near Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain. The Twenty-First Century Commission did call for state acquisition of some of this tract on its Open Space Protection Map, issued in 1990. The Adirondack Council made the same recommendation in the third volume of its 2020 Vision reports.
In its report, written by the guidebook author Barbara McMartin, the council said Poke-o “is just one of a cluster of mountains with exposed rock ledges, the nucleus of what could be a splendid hiking and climbing area.” All told, the environmental group recommended the state acquire 3,660 acres to the north and west of Poke-o.
Both the commission and the council suggested that the land, if purchased, be classified as Wild Forest (like Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain).
Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has been trying for a few years to protect the Burnt Pond parcel. Chris Maron, the group’s executive director, said the land is ideal for hiking and cross-country skiing.
“In the best of all worlds, I’d like to see it become part of the Forest Preserve,” Maron said. “The second alternative is to keep it in private hands with a conservation easement.”
Maron said the tract could provide another hiking route to the fire tower on the summit of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, starting from the west on Trout Pond Road.
LandVest is offering the Burnt Pond tract for $2,275,000.
The other tract on the market is near Jenny Lake in the western Adirondacks. It borders parcels of state land that are part of the Aldrich Pond Wild Forest.
LandVest says the 580-acre tract includes nearly a thousand feet of Jenny Lake waterfront and nearly five thousand feet of frontage on Jenny Creek, a trout stream. It is selling for $475,000.
Neither the Twentieth-First Century Commission nor the council’s 2020 reports called for state acquisition of this tract. However, the Jenny Lake tract is zoned Rural Use, one of the strictest land classifications in the Park, and the commission recommended preserving the open-space character of all Rural Use lands through easements and other conservation tools.
Given the state’s finances, it seems unlikely that any of the LandVest tracts will be purchased for the Forest Preserve.
“Some of these seem to be desirable for state ownership, but they’d have to stand in line for funding,” remarked John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
Photo by Phil Brown: inside the Poke-o-Mountain fire tower.
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.