“This is a $200,000 piece of property that we’re getting for a fraction of that price. Nothing is more important than our water supply, and we’re protecting it through a wonderful partnership between the town, the Lake George Land Conservancy and a local resident,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.
The Lake George Land Conservancy’s easement on the property, which protects it from any development, reduced the price to the town by more than $100,000, said Nancy Williams, the Conservancy’s executive director.
The 83-acre tract was recently purchased by Rebecca Smith, a resident of Edgecomb Pond Road, who donated the easement and sold the protected property to the town for a steeply reduced price.
Smith, an artist who divides her time between Bolton and New York City, donated the easement to the Lake George Land Conservancy.
“I can’t say enough about the generosity of Rebecca Smith,” said Conover. “She’s done a wonderful thing for the community. This property will have value for our residents for decades to come.”
At its annual Land and Water Conservation Celebration, held on August 8 at the Sagamore, the Conservancy inducted Smith into its Apperson Society in recognition of her contribution to land protection.
“Rebecca Smith is the living embodiment of the principle that one individual can make a difference,” said Nancy Williams. “After the Cat and Thomas Mountains preserve, this is the single largest piece of property within the Edgecomb Pond watershed. Nearly all of it drains into the pond, and once the land is lost to development, it’s lost forever,” said Williams.
The value of the land lies not only in its capacity to protect the purity of the town’s drinking water, but also in its ability to provide habitat for wildlife and opportunities for recreation for local residents, said Williams.
“And I understand the land has beautiful views,” said Williams.
Moreover, Smith herself said at the Conservancy’s celebration, undeveloped forest lands can help arrest climate change.
“Our climate depends upon our ability to offset the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and American forests constitute one of the greatest carbon banks on the planet. The Adirondacks is one of the most important branches of that bank!” she said.
According to Smith, “eighty-two acres of forest land sequesters 100 tons of carbon dioxide a year, which is the equivalent of the annual emissions of 21 cars or 9 homes.”
The capacity to sequester carbon is a potential economic asset for the North Country, said Smith.
Smith said the transaction between the property’s former owners, the town, the Lake George Land Conservancy and herself was possible “because everyone was on the same page; we all want to protect our watersheds.”
According to Ron Conover, hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing would be permitted on the property.
The land will be accessible from the Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, said Williams.
As the owner of the conservation easement, the Lake George Land Conservancy will make certain that the land is never disturbed through logging or other activities, said Williams.
“This is the perfect example of how a community can protect an asset, and surface water is a vital asset,” said Williams. “Without it, communities are forced to drill wells, which becomes very expensive.”
Lake George Mirror file photo.