While crowds of people continue to show up at High Peak trailheads between St. Huberts and Lake Placid, there are still plenty of wild places in the Adirondacks where you can spend time and possibly not even see another person.
Just the other day, I took a quick paddle on Grass Pond in the Sable Highlands, located near Loon Lake in the northern Adirondacks, and didn’t see another soul.
Earlier in the year, I took a bike ride and hike with former Explorer editor Phil Brown on the same easement property and also didn’t see anyone else recreating. That day, Phil and I left from a parking area at Fishhole Pond. We were exploring the property because Phil was working on a story about a bike route and trail that had been planned by the state but had never been implemented.
Phil spent a good amount his time exploring the Sable Highlands easement lands this spring and summer. What he found is that many of the recreation routes that the state had been planning to develop were never completed.
A number of new facilities and access opportunities on the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin and Clinton counties (former Domtar Industries lands near Lyon Mountain) are now available for public use, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. DEC and its partners have constructed new parking lots, opened some roads for motorized use, and installed informational kiosks. Roads and trails have been opened through private lease areas to provide access under sporting leases to areas open to public use.
The Sable Highlands easement lands include more than 28,000 acres of lands distributed over 14 public use areas, all of which are open and available for public access and recreation in accordance with the April 2009 Interim Recreation Management Plan. More than 56,000 acres of the Sable Highlands easement lands are leased by the landowner to hunting, fishing and recreation clubs for their exclusive private use. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is preparing to restart a management plan for nearly 60,000 acres of Forest Preserve and other state-managed lands in the Chazy Highlands Complex. The lands spread across 493 square miles in 34 separate parcels in the northeastern Adirondack Park and are located in the towns of Bellmont, Duane, and Franklin in Franklin County and the towns of Altona, Black Brook, Dannemora, Ellenburg, and Saranac in Clinton County.
Natural features in the Complex include Lyon Mountain, Haystack Knob, Norton Peak, and Ellenburg Mountain; Upper Chateaugay Lake and Chazy Lake; and Saranac River and Great Chazy River. The primary recreational uses are fishing and hunting; however the public also participates in hiking, camping, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and bird/wildlife watching on these lands. Both the trail to the Fire Tower on the Lyon Mountain and the Lewis Preserve Wildlife Management Area are frequented often by the public. » Continue Reading.
The Domtar land purchase – now known as Sable Highlands and located in Franklin and Clinton Counties near Lyon Mountain – has been finalized with the protection of 104,000 acres, an area seven times the size of Manhattan. New York State purchased a conservation easement from the Lyme Timber Company on December 24, 2008 and that transaction ended four years of efforts to preserve the acreage once owned by Domtar Industries in the northeastern corner of the Adirondacks. In addition to the continuation of sustainable forestry, the conservation easement also includes access to nearly 30,000 acres that have been off-limits to the public for decades, including Sugarloaf Mountain, the Norton and Plumadore Ranges, and Barnes, Grass, Figure Eight, and Fish Hole Ponds. Combined with the 20,000 acres of new state lands, the public now has access to about 50,000 acres in a part of the park that has had limited opportunities for public recreation in the past. The Sable Highlands includes 220 miles of permanent and seasonal streams, 2,600 acres of wetlands, and 20 lakes and ponds in the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain drainages. Among the lands protected in the Domtar deal are Lyon Mountain (14,400-acre habitat for Bicknell’s thrush), Ellenburg Mountain (1,700-acre tract of roadless forest that adjoining 7,100 acres of Forest Preserve lands), Whistle Pond / Keniston Meadows (920-acre tract adjoining existing state Forest Preserve), and East Chazy Lake.
In December of 2004, Domtar sold all of its Adirondack holdings in Clinton and Franklin Counties to the Lyme Timber Company and The Nature Conservancy. Working in partnership with Lyme, the Conservancy, and local community leaders, New York State has now fulfilled an agreement to secure the permanent protection of those properties.
A few months ago, the state made an outright purchase of 20,000 acres as new public lands from The Nature Conservancy. The purchases help foster the Adirondack Park’s role as a conservation model for the world and is another important investment in the local forest products industry. Last week, the state purchased a conservation easement to protect 84,000 acres owned by Lyme Timber. This “working forest” easement promotes sustainable forest management and timber harvesting, restricts residential development and subdivision, and creates a balance of public recreational access and continued private recreational leasing on the property.
The recent state expenditures were previously budgeted to the Environmental Protection Fund from money provided primarily from a real estate transfer tax. Private contribution to The Nature Conservancy’s Sable Highlands Campaign since 2004 totaled some $4 million and also helped to offset the overall costs of conservation.
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