Posted on March 30th, 2012 5 comments Add a comment >>
After years of negotiation and some controversy, the state has finalized an agreement that will allow more than two hundred hunting camps to remain on timberlands formerly owned by Champion International.
In 1998, the state entered an agreement with Champion to purchase 29,000 acres in the Adirondacks and preserve another 110,000 with conservation easements that allow public access.
Under the original agreement, the hunting camps on the easement lands were to be removed by 2014, but following an outcry, the state Department of Environmental Conservation renegotiated the agreement to permit them to stay. In return, the new landowner, Heartwood Forestland Fund, will give the state nearly 2,800 acres in the Deer River valley. The new agreement was signed this week.
“This is great news for the North Country. The tradition of hunting and hunting camps is an important part of our heritage,” Clifton Supervisor Robert Snider said in a DEC news release issued this morning.
The Adirondack Council also praised the deal. John Sheehan, the group’s spokesman, noted that later easement deals allowed hunting camps to remain in place. “Timber companies get more money from leasing the camps than they do cutting timber,” he said. “It helps to keep the forest intact.”
Environmentalists had raised concerns about the change in the agreement when DEC revealed its intentions in 2006.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said his biggest worry was that the hunting-club members would ride all-terrain vehicles on the easement lands. But under the renegotiated agreement, he said, recreational ATV use is prohibited (the hunters can use them in the spring to reach their camps).
David Gibson of Adirondack Wild criticized DEC for conducting the negotiations behind closed doors and failing to hold a public hearing. He also questions whether the public got a fair deal. For more of Gibson’s thoughts on the matter, click here.
The deal allows Heartwood to lease up to 220 hunting camps on the easement lands. There are 208 camps now, so Heartwood could construct another twelve. The camps have exclusive recreational rights to one-acre footprints around their buildings. The rest of the easement lands are open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other forms of recreation.
More than 2,100 of the 2,797 acres deeded to the state lie within the Adirondack Park and thus will become part of the Forest Preserve. The rest lies just outside the Blue Line and will be designated State Forest. DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said these lands are now open to the public.
Click here to read DEC’s analysis of the change in the easement deal.
Posted on November 11th, 2009 Add a comment >>
In a post yesterday, I reported that Heartland Forestland Fund would donate 2,661 acres to the state under a plan to modify a conservation-easement agreement in order to allow hunting camps to remain on timberlands in the northern Adirondacks. I now have a map of the lands in question, shown above.
Most of the land (2,146 acres) lies within the Adirondack Park and will be added to the Deer River Primitive Area, which is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The remainder (515 acres) lies just north of the Park and includes three quarters of a mile of river corridor along the Deer. Since it is outside the Park, this parcel would become part of the Deer River State Forest.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation says both parcels contain ecologically valuable wetlands. The larger parcel also contains frontage on Cole Hill Road, which can be used for access.
Most of the Deer River inside the Park and beyond is canoeable. In Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson writes that the biggest attraction for the cruising canoeist is an eight-mile level known as Deer River Meadows, which overlaps the Blue Line. The 515-acre parcel contains part of this stretch.
In an earlier post, I wrote about canoeing the Deer River Flow. A longer story on this trip will appear in a future issue of the Adirondack Explorer. I’m looking forward to paddling the river proper next year.
Posted on November 10th, 2009 4 comments Add a comment >>
When the state signed a deal a decade ago to protect 139,000 acres owned by Champion International, Adirondack residents complained that it called for the demolition of hunting camps that had been in use for many years.
As a result, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to modify the deal to allow the 220 camps to remain. In exchange, the current owner, Heartland Forestland Fund III, will donate 2,661 acres to the state. The company supplements its timber revenue by leasing land to hunting clubs.
In 1999, the state bought 29,000 acres outright from Champion and protected the remaining 110,000 acres via conservation easements that prohibit development but permit logging.
The original deal required the camps to be demolished after June 30, 2014. Under DEC’s proposal, released today (Tuesday), they will be allowed to remain indefinitely. Each camp will have a one-acre footprint that will remain off limits to the public. The rest of the land will be open for public recreation.
The land to be given the state includes a 2,146-parcel near the Deer River in the northern Adirondack Park. Most of the Deer River corridor within the Park was purchased from Champion in the 1999 deal and is now called the Deer River Primitive Area. The new parcel will be added to this Forest Preserve tract. Also, a 515-acre parcel will be added to the Deer River State Forest just north of the Park.
Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said the modified agreement will benefit the Forest Preserve, the hunters, and Heartland. “We’re not thrilled that they reopened an easement that the state settled a decade ago, but we can live with the result,” he said.
The modifications must be approved by the state attorney general and the state comptroller. DEC will be taking public comments on the proposal until December 11. Comments may be e-mailed to Heather Carl at HFF3DEIS@gw.dec.state.ny.us.
Click the links below for PDF files of DEC’s announcement and details of the proposal.