Towns of Salisbury and Norway, NY (December 28, 2020)—Building on more than three decades of protecting land in and around the Adirondack Park Preserve, the Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the permanent protection of more than 3,300 acres in the Herkimer County towns of Salisbury and Norway. Comprised of hardwood and softwood forests and significant wetlands, and within the Mohawk river watershed, OSI’s latest acquisition protects land for clean drinking water and expands regional connectivity of protected lands.
The newly protected 3,387-acre “Spruce Creek” property is named for a creek that flows through the land and is a tributary to East Canada Creek, and ultimately, the Mohawk River. The property includes several miles of Spruce Creek and almost 900 acres of wetlands, making OSI’s acquisition critical to the protection of clean drinking water. Spruce Creek and its surrounding wetlands are within the watershed that provides drinking water for the City of Little Falls.
The acquisition is located just outside the southwestern boundary of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and connects to more than 150,000 acres of the Ferris Lake Wild Forest.
OSI purchased the Spruce Creek property for $3 million from Datum 9 Forestry LLC. The acquisition is expanding protected wilderness areas in the Eastern US — and showcasing the many benefits of land for clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, and to fight climate change.
OSI’s conservation of this forested parcel not only improves wilderness connectivity, but also increases the availability of protected land for public enjoyment and recreation.
“The permanent protection of this largescale property represents a conservation homerun in that it secures a source of clean water, protects wildlife habitat, creates additional space for recreation, and stores carbon to help fight climate change,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The protection of these 3,300 acres of forest land in the Adirondack Park provides countless benefits to our shared environment and safeguards this critical economic resource for generations to come. I congratulate OSI on this significant land acquisition and their ongoing work as our partner protecting New York’s forest resources and acting to combat climate change and help ensure clean drinking water for our communities.”
The property is rated as above average for both resilience and landscape connectivity, meaning the land is uniquely positioned to support a diverse array of plants and animals even as the climate changes and that the land is connected to other green spaces that allow for the movement of plant and animal species.
About 25 percent of the newly protected land is categorized as wetlands, which are important to providing habitat for diverse animal and plant species and filtering rainwater before it drains into the Mohawk River.
OSI’s Spruce Creek acquisition hosts a diverse array of animal species including, white-tailed deer, black bear, bobcats, river otters, beaver, mink, varying hare, red fox, grey fox, fisher, pine martins, and ruffled grouse.
Adjacent to the Adirondack Park, the property is well-suited for outdoor recreation. OSI intends to transfer the property to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) using funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Ten acres of the property will be added as an addition to the Ferris Lake Wild Forest and the remaining land will become a new state forest.
Until that occurs, OSI will make the Spruce Creek property open and available to the public for passive recreation, including hiking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and nature photography.
The property’s size and location also make it an ideal outdoor recreational spot for public trails. While the adjacent Ferris Lake Wild Forest property currently has marked foot-trails, there is the potential for future trail development on OSI’s Spruce Creek property that would provide new hiking opportunities.