Lake Luzerne, NY (November 12, 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 land in the Town of Lake Luzerne. Comprised of hardwood and softwood forests and wetlands, and within the Hudson River watershed, the acquisition provides protections for clean water and, through its capture of carbon, aids in efforts to fight climate change.
The newly protected 1,260-acre “West Mountain” property is located west of the West Mountain Ski area. It is situated between the southeastern boundary of the Adirondack Park and Moreau Lake State Park and adjacent to Ralph Road State Forest. In addition to the clean water and climate change benefits, conservation of the forested parcel will also support regional connectivity, wildlife habitat, and recreation. Now protected from future development, the acquisition is a critical step toward establishing regional connectivity of forested lands.
“In fast growing regions like Warren County, it is becoming rarer to find a property of this size that exemplifies the many benefits of protected land— supporting clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation , and the storage of carbon to help fight climate change,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “OSI plays a critical role in conservation efforts in the Adirondack foothills and across the state. In addition to protecting water quality and helping to capture greenhouse gas emissions, the acquisition of the West Mountain property strengthens ongoing efforts to connect visitors with the countless recreational opportunities at the Ralph Road State Forest and elsewhere in the Lake Luzerne area.”
Nationally, forests and other land sequester more than 14 percent of US carbon dioxide emissions each year, providing a natural climate solution that is helping in the fight against climate change. The West Mountain property is heavily forested and stores and captures significant amounts of carbon according to OSI’s 2020 carbon analysis of the property. Currently, the property stores approximately 116,000 metric tons of carbon, or more than 90 metric tons per acre, which is considered well above average.
The property contains a portion of a local stream known as Bennie Brook. In addition to the great blue heron rookery that can be found on the property, the land also provides ideal habitat for deer, turkey, bear, and bobcat. About six percent of the newly protected land is categorized as DEC-regulated wetlands, which are important to providing habitat for diverse animal and plant species and filtering rainwater before it drains into the Hudson River.
According to climate resilience modeling completed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), nearly the entirety of the West Mountain property is categorized as “above average” or better for climate resilience, meaning the land is uniquely positioned support a diverse array of plants and animals even as the climate changes.
Further, beyond the many ecological benefits, protection of the land is critical because the region is known to provide not only the best, but one of the only remaining habitat linkages between Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Adirondacks.
The West Mountain property is one of five significant properties, together totaling more than 3,300 acres, that OSI has protected in support of creating a connected, green corridor in the Palmertown Range.
The property is expected to be added to Ralph Road State Forest using Environmental Protection Funding (EPF). Once the transfer is complete, OSI will have helped the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) more than triple the size of Ralph Road State Forest.