The Three Rivers Forest properties include exceptional northern hardwood timberland near the headwaters of three major rivers flowing north to the St. Lawrence River – the Raquette, Oswegatchie and Grasse. The lands were purchased from investor-owners who had previously purchased former paper company lands, including former tracts of the Champion and International paper companies.
Adirondack Council Executive Director Wille Janeway said this area includes some sensitive forests adjoining the Raquette Boreal Primitive Area and is critical to protecting endangered spruce grouse. The Council has called for protection of these lands since the 1980s (you can see those recommendations in their 2020 VISION report [pdf]).
“This bold action and leadership by the Conservation Fund (and Tom Duffus) also allows for continued forest management and private leasing while protecting the lands from subdivision and development, so management can potentially adjust to better protect these sensitive waters, wildlife and forests of the Adirondack Raquette Boreal area,” Janeway said in an e-mail to Adirondack Almanack.
To make the acquisitions, the Conservation Fund used its Working Forest Fund program. Conservation easements such as these typically serve as ecological buffers to ‘Forever Wild’ Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks, and often provide more extensive motorized use along with logging operations. Under The Conservation Fund’s temporary ownership of 33,000 acres it hopes to resell with easements, and rights to protect another 18,000 acres, the Three Rivers Forest is expected to be managed as a sustainable working forest, allowing hunting, snowmobiling, fishing, and more.
A press release sent by The Conservation Fund on Thursday says: “over the last decade they have placed more than 690,000 acres under conservation management through its Working Forest Fund program, with the goal of purchasing and permanently protecting five million acres of working forests. In New York, The Conservation Fund helped conserve over 440,000 acres of land including the former Champion Paper Company lands and the former International Paper Company lands as such companies were divesting of lands and creating uncertainty on the future of working forests.” At The Conservation Fund has worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including nearly 460,000 acres of important natural resources, wildlife habitat and recreational lands in New York State, according to the press release.
Adirondack Atlas has a map showing the large landowners in this area in 1959 here. Additional layers at the Adirondack Atlas show the area’s current land use classifications and the public land classifications in 1973.
Map above was provided by the The Conservation Fund.