NEW YORK, NY - January 5, 2005 - Today the Open Space Institute's Northern Forest Protection Fund (NFPF) announced that it had provided $2.5 million in grants and loans to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to help finance the acquisition of 104,000 acres of land in the northern Adirondacks formerly owned by Domtar Industries, Inc.
According to Kim Elliman, CEO of the Open Space Institute, the funding helps complete a landmark project in New York State. “The property, which is located in the northeastern Adirondacks in the Sable Highlands region, represents the third largest unprotected property in the entire state. OSI is pleased to have played a supporting role in this transaction, which will create new recreational opportunities in the region and help sustain the local economy by protecting commercial timberland. The State of New York and TNC are to be commended for this important transaction,” said Elliman.
The Northern Forest Protection Fund is a matching capital fund created in 2000 with grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation. The NFPF makes grants and loans to land trusts to support the permanent protection of large forested landscapes in northern New York and New England. “The program evolved out of concern that this magnificent forest was quickly fragmenting as a result of timber companies and other large property owners selling their lands and moving to other climates,” said Peter Howell, OSI's Director of Conservation Finance.
Under an agreement between the State of New York, TNC and Lyme Timber, a private timber investment company, and the State will acquire working forest easements on more than 84,000 acres purchased by Lyme and will eventually acquire an additional 20,000 acres purchased by The Nature Conservancy. The easements to be purchased by New York State will require sustainable forest management and timber harvesting under principles of the Forest Stewardship Council; prohibit residential development and restrict subdivision; and, create a balance of public recreational access and continued traditional private recreational leasing on the property.
Of the 20,000 acres purchased by The Nature Conservancy, approximately 17,000 acres will be added to the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. The remaining 3,000 acres, located in the Town of Dannemora, will become State Forest land.
The agreement provides full public recreation rights to more than 47,000 acres of privately-owned land that is not under lease agreement and has not previously been open to the public. Public recreational opportunities will include hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Partial public recreation rights, including more than 44 miles of recreational corridors for public motorized access, will be acquired on more than 36,000 acres of Lyme Timber's lands that are currently leased to private hunting clubs.
“This project adroitly balances environmental, economic and recreational interests,” said Howell. “It also is one of the more complicated transactions the Fund has supported because it involves five separate parcels of land, multiple partners, two timber companies, and the use of new federal tax credits. However, the story has a very simple ending, which is that New Yorkers will have many tens of thousands of acres of protected wilderness to explore and enjoy in the beautiful Sable Highlands, while local communities will retain important timber jobs,” continued Howell.
Henry Tepper, Director of The Nature Conservancy of New York, said, “In the last five years alone, Governor Pataki and New York State have secured a tremendous natural legacy of protected lands for current and future generations. The Conservancy is honored to work with them on the Sable Highlands Project, adding to other successful collaborations in the region.”
Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter, said, “The Northern Forest Protection Fund provides a critical boost for conservation in the Adirondacks and beyond. We applaud the Fund on the pivotal role it plays in the Sable Highlands project and many others. ”
Mission of the Open Space Institute, Inc.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, special loan programs, and creative partnerships.
About OSI's Land Protection Programs
The Open Space Institute has protected more than 90,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund, OSI has assisted in the protection of more than 1,100,000 acres in northern NY, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. OSI's New Jersey Conservation Loan Program has helped protect over 10,500 acres in the nation's most densely populated state.