New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens was atop Prospect Mountain this morning to announce the state’s purchase of more than 2,460 acres that will help protect the world-renowned scenery and water quality of Lake George and its tributaries.
The purchases, made through the Environmental Protection Fund, include the Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel, a 1,900-acre property in the town of Bolton (Warren County), previously acquired by the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC), which was sold to the State for $1.5 million. The State also purchased the 565-acre East River Road Tract of the former Finch lands in the Town of Bolton from The Nature Conservancy for $381,000. This parcel is adjacent to the Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel. The parcels will be added to the State Forest Preserve. The State will pay full local property and school taxes on the newly acquired land.
A portion of the Cat and Thomas property includes approximately 65 percent of the watershed encompassing the Town of Bolton’s drinking water supply at Edgecomb Pond, including Finkle Brook.
Two Queensbury politicians, who have expressed their broad opposition to state land acquisitions in the past, spoke favorably of this latest purchase. “This parcel is part of the Lake George watershed. The State’s acquisition is a small but very important investment that will benefit those depending on the lake for drinking water and help ensure Lake George remains a premium tourist destination in the years ahead,” State Senator Betty Little said in a statement to the press.
“As an avid hiker, I can attest to the breathtaking views Cat and Thomas Mountains provide of Lake George. I also remain committed to protecting the water quality of Lake George, as well as the drinking water for the residents of Bolton. This acquisition will both provide recreational opportunities and preserve water quality for the residents of the Lake George area,” newly elected State Assemblyman Dan Stec’s statement said. Ron Conover, Supervisor of the Town of Bolton, and Mayor of the Village of Lake George Robert Blais both also praised the acquisition.
Over the past several years the Lake George Land Conservancy has developed an extensive trail system at Cat and Thomas Mountains. Thousands of hikers register their names in the trailhead register each year. Cat and Thomas mountains provide spectacular views of the Lake George basin, Gore Mountain and Vermont’s Green Mountains.
The Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel is currently open to the public and will remain open, the governor’s office said. LGLC officials said they are applying to DEC to continue to maintain the trails through DEC’s Trail Cooperative Agreement program. The East River Road parcel is expected to be open to the public in October 2013.
The State is still expected to develop recreational plans and work with the Adirondack Park Agency to determine classifications of the lands. Once classifications are approved, DEC will be expected to develop a Unit Management Plans which will include a public comment period.