The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) has issued a report to the press outlining its work in 2014 and looking forward to its plans for 2015. In tallying their efforts, LGLC has found that over the last nine months they have protected 462 acres of Lake George watershed lands through partnerships, purchases, donations and conservation easements and are currently working on plans to protect over 750 acres in the near future.
Land conservation projects have been completed in five towns around Lake George, including Bolton, Hague, Putnam, Fort Ann, and the Town of Lake George. The projects protect forests, wetlands, rocky slopes and ridges, and streams, as well as wildlife habitat.
LGLC also achieved land trust accreditation in August from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The organization is also preparing for a change in leadership. Executive Director Nancy Williams is expected to retire this fall, and LGLC’s Board of Directors hope to have a new executive director in place by January of 2015.
“My retirement is bittersweet,” Williams said in a statement issued to the press. “My spirit will always be here at Lake George, and in the memories of some of our greatest projects: working with an unlikely partner to protect the Padanarum lands; discovering the resident bobcat at the Last Great Shoreline and using that (and unfortunate leg traps set for the area’s beavers) as inspiration for the development of Lake George’s first managed wildlife refuge; and the summer that I worked alongside our stewards to create the Friendship Garden at Peggy’s Point. Most of all I will miss the people who made these projects possible.”
Projects Completed in 2014
“Last Great Shoreline” Purchase
A celebration at the Hague Community Center in June marked the end to a five-year fund-raising campaign to protect what LGLC calls the “Last Great Shoreline” in the Town of Putnam, Washington County. The 351-acre property directly across the lake from Hague, which includes Jumping Rock, was purchased in 2009 for $4 million. The final mortgage payment was made in February, 2014.
A linkage between the Last Great Shoreline property and LGLC’s Gull Bay Preserve to its south was achieved through a purchase of three acres in April. A through-trail has since been created and the whole trail system of nearly 6 miles is now open to the public. The trail system also includes access from the water, via a new dock that was installed in July.
Pilot Knob Area Donation
David Van Hart of Pilot Knob donated 63 acres in Fort Ann to LGLC in June of 2014. Located off of Ridge Road (Route 9L) just south of Pilot Knob Road, the property serves as a southern anchor for the greater Pilot Knob ridge area, which is of conservation interest to LGLC. The forested property includes streams, wetlands, and ledges that are visible from Lake George and provide clear views of Dunham Bay Marsh and French Mountain. Though not currently open to the public, LGLC hopes to connect this land to its popular Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob less than 1.5 miles to the north.
Sabbath Day Point-Silver Bay Area Purchase
LGLC recently completed a fund-raising campaign for the purchase of 120 acres in the Sabbath Day Point-Silver Bay area from the Terzian family for $75,000. The property is adjacent to uplands owned by New York State and the Silver Bay YMCA. In partnership with Silver Bay, LGLC hopes to create a marked trail system from Route 9N to connect with Silver Bay’s existing trails.
Lake George Wild Forest Donation
The owner of a 175-acre Lake George property known as Matty’s Mountain has agreed to donate the land to LGLC, completing the protection of the headwaters of West Brook in the south end of Lake George. The property is bordered by LGLC’s Berry Pond Preserve on three sides, and includes trails used by snowmobiles. LGLC purchased the adjacent 1,400-acre Berry Pond Preserve in 2008 for $2.654 million with the understanding that, as a land of interest to New York State, it would be sold and added to the Lake George Wild Forest. A contract with the State has been completed and its sale for $1.724 million is now anticipated by the end of 2014. LGLC also anticipates selling the Matty’s Mountain piece to New York State in the future to be added to the Berry Pond lands.
Bolton Easement Donation
A partnership between a landowner, the town of Bolton, and LGLC resulted in the protection of an 84-acre property within the Edgecomb Pond watershed, the drinking water source for the Town of Bolton. LGLC Advisory Board Member Rebecca Smith purchased the forested property with the intention to donate a conservation easement to LGLC and then sell the protected land to the Town at a greatly reduced price. Closing on the transaction is set for September 16, 2014. Since nearly all of the land’s water runs directly into Edgecomb Pond, its protection means the safeguarding of the Town’s drinking water. The property also adjoins New York State’s Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, and will provide additional public recreational resources and protected habitat.
Photo: View of Dunham’s Bay and French Mountain from the recently donated “Van Hart” property in Fort Anne (provided).