New York state and the Adirondack Nature Conservancy have closed a deal to protect 156 acres of wetland on the southern end of Lake Champlain.
The deal, announced this week, will maintain more than 2,000 feet of undeveloped shorelines. According to state officials, the land is home to rare plants and is important habitat for “thousands of waterfowl species.”
DEC commissioner Joe Martens issued a statement describing the protected land in the Washington County town of Dresden as “part of a travel corridor for wildlife between the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains.”
The new parcel will be part of a protected area that now includes nearly 500 acres.
The Adirondack Nature Conservancy bought the land three years ago for half a million dollars and donated it to the state of New York. It will be added to the “forever wild” forest preserve.
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FULL PRESS RELEASE:
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the state has acquired 156 acres on Southern Lake Champlain in the Town of Dresden, Washington County that will be added to the State Forest Preserve, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.
Known as the Chubbs Dock property, the land features 2,140 feet of undeveloped shoreline and 70 acres of wetland communities that support rare plants and falls within an area that provides critical breeding, staging and migration habitat for thousands of waterfowl species.
“Chubbs Dock conserves excellent wildlife habitat along the narrow headwaters of Lake Champlain,” said Commissioner Martens. “The property will be added to the Forest Preserve and serve as part of a travel corridor for wildlife between the Adirondack and Green Mountains. Thanks to our partners TNC, Washington County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for making this land preservation possible.”
With funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetland Conservation Act grant program, TNC purchased the property for $500,000 in November 2009. The property was then donated to New York State in May 2012. TNC has previously utilized North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants to protect Mill Bay Marsh and Huckleberry Marsh in the Lake Champlain watershed.
“This is a great example of strategic, high leverage conservation work of regional and national importance,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter.
“Not only is New York State keeping intact some of the largest wetlands on Lake Champlain, but doing it in a way that will also secure public access for hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife-oriented recreation-all of which contribute to the state’s outdoor recreation economy.”
The NAWCA grant application was supported by Washington County and included a commitment by the county to transfer an adjoining 283-acre tract on Maple Bend Island. Both transfers happened this year, adding a total of 439 acres with significant wetlands to public ownership. As part of the Forest Preserve, DEC will pay taxes on both properties. Public access to Lake Champlain and its shoreline is limited because most of the shoreline is privately owned. State acquisition of Chubb’s Dock will provide for new public access.
Protecting wetlands is also an important part of mitigating the impacts of climate change by helping to maintain the connection between wetlands and riparian habitat.
The NAWCA of 1989 provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetland conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife. The Act was passed, in part, to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated uplands habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America. In December 2002, Congress reauthorized the Act and expanded its scope to include the conservation of all habitats and birds associated with wetland ecosystems.
The Act emphasizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as necessary and valuable mechanisms for wetlands conservation, and for this reason proposals submitted for funding under the Act must include a substantial partnership component. Wetlands conservation projects focus specifically on the long-term protection, restoration, enhancement and/or management of wetland ecosystems.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, set up under the Act, is funded through several federal sources, including direct appropriations, interest from receipts under the Pittman-Robertson Trust Fund, receipts from the Sportfish Restoration Account, and fines and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Bird Habitat Conservation is responsible for facilitating and administering grants under the Act’s two grants programs.
By focusing on public-private partnerships and working with multiple stakeholders to leverage federal dollars several times over with non-federal funding sources, the NAWCA Program has become one of the nation’s most successful conservation programs.