Those who appreciate the outdoors will cheer the latest phase of New York State’s acquisition of 69,000 acres to the State Forest Preserve formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, as well as $875,000 in available grants for projects to develop sites within the Adirondack Park and further position the region as a world-class tourism and recreation destination.
“Expanding the State Forest Preserve will provide new year-round recreational opportunities to New Yorkers and tourists alike and continue to grow the North Country’s economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Protecting these lands and providing grants for site improvements helps ensure that the Forest Preserve remains an unparalleled natural, recreational, and economic asset available to all visitors.”
The lands acquired from the properties formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company will protect miles of waterways and open spaces. To better improve the recreational and economic opportunities available, the $875,000 in grants will fund hiking, horseback riding trails, biking, snowmobiling and connector trails, as well as smart growth planning in the region.
Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens said, “Time and time again Governor Cuomo has demonstrated his commitment to bettering the Adirondack Park and increasing opportunities for growth in the North Country’s economy and tourism industry. These grants will strengthen the connection between local communities and State Forest lands in the heart of the Adirondack Park and help municipalities take advantage of all these extraordinary lands have to offer.”
Third Phase of Acquisitions of the former Finch Pruyn & Co. Properties
In fulfillment of its 2012 pledge to expand the State Forest Preserve and acquire 69,000 acres of former Finch properties over the next five years, New York State has purchased an additional 8,451 acres of former Finch lands in Fulton, Warren, Essex and Hamilton counties. The State will pay $5.7 million to acquire the tracts from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), using the State’s Environmental Protection Funds (EPF). Already, the state has completed two acquisition phases totaling 30,037 acres. The 14 new parcels contain miles of rivers and streams, ponds, wildlife habitat and trails, and offer exceptional opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, cross country skiing and mountain biking. The properties include:
- Benson Road (a.k.a. Tomantown), which borders the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, features habitat for black bear and bald eagles, regionally-rare plants like Canadian burnet, spruce northern hardwood forests, and connects snowmobile trails in the Towns of Mayfield and Bleeker. (Fulton County, 3,820 acres)
Black Spruce Mountain, which is adjacent to the Lake George Wild Forest, features Black Spruce Mountain and a section of Podunk Brook. (Warren County, 191 acres)
Township 33 (Sugarloaf Mt.), which features a section of the popular 120-mile Northville-Placid trail, as well as an exposed cliff. (Hamilton County, 451 acres)
Good Luck Tract, which features northern hardwood and spruce-fir forests, will provide access to Stonystep and Big Bad Luck ponds. (Hamilton County, 418 acres)
Buell Valley, which features Buell Brook and was once the site of the Finch Pruyn’s river drive pusher dam. (Hamilton County, 10 acres)
Cedar Ridge features two small ponds and is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Wilderness, which hosts a major section of the Northville-Placid Trail. (Hamilton County, 548 acres)
Blue Ridge Road, which can potentially provide enhanced recreational access to the Dix Mountain Wilderness. (Essex County, 77 acres)
Hudson River Hyslop, near the state-run Harris Lake Campground, can potentially have improved access to Duck Hole. (Essex County, 301 acres)
North River, which features floodplain and upland forests and more than one mile of Hudson River shorelines. This tract is located opposite the take-out area along State Route 28 used by commercial rafting companies for whitewater rafting through protected forests on the Indian and Hudson Rivers. (Essex and Warren Counties, 155 acres)
In addition to thousands of acres in the Adirondack Park, this phase of the land acquisition includes properties just south of the “blue line” in Saratoga County, favored for its mountain biking trails, hunting and other recreational activities. These properties — the Daniels Road tract (519 acres), the Penn York tract (241 acres) and the Town Line tract (176 acres) — also offer exceptional forest settings, attractive hilly terrain, wetlands, marshes and riparian habitats. In addition, the Town of Edinburg will be able to move forward with the acquisition of 1,248 acres on Fox Hill Road, and plans to improve outdoor recreation and snowmobile trails with a boardwalk over wetlands. Another 154 acres known as Town Corners will consolidate wetlands in Greenfield.
$875,000 in Grants for Recreational and Smart Growth Projects
New York’s Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), in conjunction with TNC and DEC, is offering grants to local municipalities to support the implementation of projects that will enhance public access to the acquired land. In addition, EPF grants will be available to advance smart growth principles of economic development and environmental protection. Specifically, these grants for community development in the Adirondack Park consist of:
- $500,000 for Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Grants program projects, including: seasonal shuttle service for hikers, bikers and paddlers; trailhead parking and waterway access on municipal lands; local infrastructure that supports such recreation uses as mountain biking, horse trail riding, snowmobiling and hiking; connector trails; hut-to-hut accommodations; guide services; and visitor orientation signs, apps and brochures. These grants are being funded by TNC and will be awarded through a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be announced this week in the NYS Contract Reporter and also on the DEC, TNC and NHT websites.
- $300,000 from the EPF for the Adirondack Smart Growth grant program will support key projects to build on existing smart growth plans, including capital projects and community development initiatives that that foster sustainable development, environmental protection and community livability.
A Request for Applications (RFA) is expected to be released in early spring. The Adirondack Smart Growth grant program will only be available through the new, statewide Grants Getaway, a web-based grants management system that can be used to browse all state agency grants available and anticipated grant opportunities. All applicants will need to register to use the gateway, and not-for-profit applicants are required to “pre-qualify” through the gateway for all grants opportunities. For additional information or to register for the program, visit the New York State Grants Reform website at www.grantsreform.ny.gov.
- $75,000 to support paddling events, which builds on the success of the 2013 Adirondack Challenge, which led to increased tourism across the region. TNC is providing this initial funding for these events to support the ecological and recreational values of the Adirondacks’ freshwater resources and new opportunities associated with the former Finch lands. These events will be coordinated through the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.
These programs advance the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which is an effort to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state and improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen. This includes the streamlining of fishing and hunting licensing, reducing license fees, and improving access for fishing and hunting at various sites across the state.
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