Sunday, August 26, 2018

Questions Raised Over Adirondack Conservation Easements

lumberyard by Mike LynchWhile some conservationists are concerned about what they perceive as recently increased logging in the Adirondack Park, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has begun providing more information about the nearly 781,000 acres of privately owned timberlands covered by state conservation easements.

Those agreements govern many of the larger logging tracts and prevent other commercial development.

New York has paid landowners about $95 million for 162 easements since the 1970s, according to the DEC.

The agreements call for “sustainable forestry” and generally allow some public use like hiking, hunting and snowmobiling on certain haul roads.

Two companies that control almost two-thirds of the easement lands, Lyme Adirondack Timberlands and Molpus Woodlands Group, say their logging has not increased recently, shown by certification audits, despite a stronger market for higher-end wood since last year

The department in August added links on its webpage to the nonprofit groups that certify whether landholders are cutting less wood than they grow. Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Institute annual audits measure sustainable logging against estimated 10-year growth averages.

Some Adirondack conservationists want more detail in return for the public’s ownership share and proportionate payments of local property taxes on the timberlands. That would include annual logging and growth data on each holding and loggers’ management plans.

A previously unpublished list of all 50 Adirondack landowners governed by easements, obtained by the Adirondack Explorer from state officials, is now online at

The DEC, which had posted plans specifying allowed public recreational uses on more than a dozen Adirondack tracts, which vary, has promised to post dozens more by the end of the year.

Read the full story at the Adirondack Explorer.

Photo by Mike Lynch.

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Michael Virtanen is a member of the Adirondack Explorer staff. He worked previously for the Associated Press in Morgantown, West Virginia, and Albany and for newspapers in Albany, Utica and Amsterdam.

7 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    “say their logging has not increased recently, shown by certification audits”

    So are the audits accurate? It looks like logging has increased on the easements that I frequent but maybe overall it has not?

    The audits are done by two independent not-for-profit certification groups. My guess is that their audits are accurate and my observations are just that – observations.

    Seems like a non-story.

  2. Paul says:

    Was looking at one area logged last year on this easement. The amount of re-growth is amazing. It’s interesting even on one tract that was logged this summer there is already lots of new growth. The pictures in the explorer story mainly show the “destructive” side of the operations.

  3. Walt says:

    “Some Adirondack conservationists want more detail …”

    Who are they? Major orgs? Any quotes?

    • Paul says:

      Why don’t they just ask for what they want? Them to stop cutting – seems like a conservation thing. These easements have just allowed them to poke around where they normally would be trespassing to check it out.

  4. Bill Keller says:

    On a lease that I’m familiar with, logging practices have improved with the chipping of slash at the header and the Lyme Company foresters are doing an excellent job of timber selection and monitoring private leases.

  5. Dan says:

    I support sustainable forestry but I can tell you that some of the former Finch lands now owned by Upper Hudson Woodlands ATP look like a cyclone hit them. These are lands that don’t have public access, maybe it’s different on those tracts. I know the logger that cut these lands, they did what they were asked to do by the owner.

  6. Dan,
    Which tracts are those?

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