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Adirondack easement protects Pokamoonshine Mountain

NEW YORK, NY — January 13, 2013 — The Open Space Institute announced today that a private landowner has donated a conservation easement that will forever protect a nearly 1,400-acre forest in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park. 

The parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Pokamoonshine Mountain, and sits within the viewshed of the historic firetower on the summit of Pokamoonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers. 

In 2009, the Johanson family donated a conservation easement encumbering approximately 1,400 acres of land in the Essex County town of Chesterfield. Today’s donation protects adjacent lands also owned for decades by the family. 

Both donations were made to the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate.

Eric Johanson began traveling to the Adirondacks with his parents in the late 1940s. He purchased a 175-acre tract in the area when he was 19 years old, then acquired other contiguous parcels over time to create a sanctuary he called Baldface Mountain Preserve. His ancestors came from Sweden and were landowners and farmers, so an appreciation for the land has been a longtime family tradition, he said. 

“The Adirondack Park is an international treasure, and we are glad to play our small part to ensure that it is conserved for generations to come,” Johanson said. 

The conservation easement permits the future subdivision and modest single-family residential or limited commercial (i.e. bed and breakfast) development of two lots, and will otherwise restrict development and subdivision. It will permit passive recreational use and sustainable forestry in accordance with a forest management plan that is acceptable to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

The Johanson family retains ownership of the land and may pass it on or even sell the land, although any future owners must adhere to the terms of the easement. 

In many cases, conservation easements are an effective tool for achieving conservation goals. Easements maintain scenic viewsheds, preserve ecological habitat, and protect historic and agricultural landscapes while keeping the lands in private hands and on local tax rolls.

The Johanson property borders the western shore of Butternut Pond and is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the Ausable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.

“OSI is delighted to have developed such a strong working relationship with this conservation-minded family,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “This second easement donation demonstrates an admirable commitment to the protection of natural resources within the Adirondack Park. Protection of the Baldface Mountain Preserve will ensure the preservation of important Adirondack viewsheds and waterways, while simultaneously keeping these lands in the hands of private, working forest landowners.”

The acquisition of this conservation easement furthers OSI’s long-held goal of protecting signature Adirondack landscapes. Over the past 15 years, OSI has protected iconic Adirondack landscapes such as the 2,000-acre Last Chance Ranch south of Lake Placid, the 13,000-acre-plus Tahawus tract at the southern entrance to the High Peaks, which includes the historic village of Adirondac, and other important natural areas. Just two weeks ago, the organization acquired the historic Marion River Carry in the central Adirondack Park.

In 2007, OSI also participated, as a conservation lender, in the The Nature Conservancy’s celebrated Finch, Pruyn acquisition, a single transaction that protected nearly 250 square miles of forestland, streams, lakes and mountains just south of the High Peaks region.

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