Thursday, May 16, 2013

DEC Planning Expanded Access to Sacandaga Easements

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is preparing a recreation management plan (RMP) for the 3,200-acre Sacandaga West Conservation Easement lands in Fulton County.

Public involvement is sought in the development of the recreation management plan. DEC is seeking information and ideas that will lead to clearly stated goals and objectives for the care and stewardship of these lands. Everyone with an interest in the area is encouraged to participate in the planning process by providing information and suggestions for its management.

The Sacandaga West Conservation Easement lands consist of six separate tracts in close proximity in the towns of Mayfield and Bleecker. Four tracts are located in the Town of Mayfield: 813-acre Jackson Summit Road West, 588-acre Dennie Road Tract, 345-acre Ferguson Mountain Tract and 46-acre Jackson Summit Road East Tract; while two tracts are located in the Town of Bleecker: 789-acre Hohler Road Tract and 619-acre Benson Road Tract.

A public open house for the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement RMP will be held on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mayfield High School auditorium. The open house will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with DEC staff and share their thoughts, ideas and suggestions regarding management of these lands. This will be the first of many opportunities for the public to be involved in the planning process.

The lands of the Sacandaga West tracts are part of the 89,000-acre Upper Hudson Woodlands Conservation Easement which was formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Co. New York State purchased the easement in 2010 prior to the lands being sold to the current owner – Upper Hudson Woodlands ATP.

The conservation easement primarily protects these lands from development and ensures the ability to continue logging. Limited public recreation rights were also purchased under the conservation agreement.

The lands of the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement have a long history of timber harvesting. Many small wetlands and ponds within the easement drain to the Great Sacandaga Lake.

Several common borders of the easement are shared with existing Forest Preserve lands. In addition, the Benson Road Tract borders a parcel which the state intends to purchase in fee within the next five years. The Tolmantown Road, Tannery Road and County Route 125 are the predominate points of access for the public to the tracts.

Much of the public’s interest is in the recreational opportunities available including: snowmobile trails on the Benson Road and Hohler Road tracts; cross-country skiing on the Dennie Road Tract; and a hiking trail on Bernhardt Mountain which has views of the Great Sacandaga Lake and surrounding hills.

DEC will draft a recreation management plan for these lands based on the public recreational rights identified in the conservation easement agreement and the comments received from the public. A Draft Recreation Management Plan for the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement Lands will be completed by DEC and released for public review and comment in the near future.

Any interested individual or organization wanting to be included on a mailing list for information about the development of the recreation management plan or wishing to submit comments is encouraged to contact planning coordinator Allison Buckley, NYSDEC, PO Box 1316, Northville, NY 12134. Ms. Buckley may be reached by telephone at 518-863-4545 ext 3007 or by e-mail at

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