New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the acquisition of several parcels totaling 662 acres in St. Lawrence, Oneida, and Lewis counties to enhance public access to a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, and hunting, as well as to protect critical wetlands and forests in the region.
The acquisition was made possible through cumulative investments of $666,800 from the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).
St. Lawrence County Parcels
DEC worked with The Conservation Fund to purchase 293 acres in the town of Hopkinton on State Route 72, known as the Schisler Tract. This $227,000 acquisition using EPF funding creates opportunities in the Whiskey Flats State Forest for sustainable forestry and public recreation such as hunting, hiking, and fishing for species like brook trout in Rosenbarker Brook.
“This purchase will consolidate the Whiskey Flats State Forest, helping the state advance its forest management program in the North Country, provide additional recreation for the public and secure jobs,” said Tom Duffus, Vice President and Northeast Representative for The Conservation Fund. “The Conservation Fund was pleased to buy the land when it came on the market and hold it until such time as the DEC could take ownership.”
Also in the town of Clifton, DEC acquired the former site of a large log cabin and boat house on Dead Creek Flow built in the late 1880s and known as Tramps Retreat for $131,400. Tramps Retreat frequently hosted prominent figures of the day including Frederick Remington, Irving Bacheller, and Governor Roswell Flower. The building was destroyed by fire in 1957. This 11-acre acquisition in a remote part of Cranberry Lake where development is limited supports efforts to preserve the area’s natural character. The parcel is bounded by Cranberry Lake Wild Forest in the Forest Preserve and includes 600 feet of frontage on the lake.
An additional 34-acre parcel purchased for $19,500 in the town of Madrid will consolidate Sodom State Forest. This area offers hunting and trapping opportunities and provides critical wetland protection.
Oneida County Parcel
The state’s acquisition of 324 acres in the town of Western for $272,500 connects Buck Hill and Clark Hill state forests. This beautiful natural area serves as an important connectivity corridor for wildlife movement between the Tug Hill Plateau and the Adirondacks. The public will have access to hiking trails that lead to beautiful vistas and hunting opportunities.
Lewis County Parcel
DEC invested $16,400 for a public access easement over the 2,800-foot-long Fall Brook Access Road in the town of Osceola. The easement provides public access to the west portion of the 30,000-acre East Branch Fish Creek easement lands from North Osceola Road over Fall Brook. The opportunities to fish for brook trout are abundant and this route also serves as the main snowmobile corridor between Oswego and Lewis counties and points east.
Governor Cuomo’s 2020-21 enacted State Budget sustains EPF funding at $300 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s 25-year history. In addition, this year’s Budget added $500 million to the State’s already historic $3 billion commitment to water quality improvements. The Budget also creates the Restore Mother Nature Environmental Bond Act. If approved by voters in November, the Bond Act would fund critical environmental restoration and climate mitigation projects in every corner of the state to ensure New York is able to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, and reduce emissions, while creating jobs and local economic development.
DEC photo of Cranberry Lake