A company called Champlain Gas and Oil is claiming that New York state improperly “ignored and misappropriated” its claim to mineral rights on roughly 13,700 acres of land in the Clinton County town of Black Brook.
The complaint, filed in June in New York state Supreme Court, claims that a vast conservation easement between Lyme Timber and New York state was conducted with “bad title” that neglected CG&O’s claim to sub-surface mineral rights.
In a statement released this week, the company claimed that “the outrageous part of this ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ fiasco is that it appears that both New York state and Lyme Timber knew of the title flaw and transacted business anyway.”
In the deal, New York state paid to extinguish residential and mining development rights on the property.
DEC issued a statement today saying that they do “not comment on pending litigation.”
Lyme Timber, which still owns the land and the logging rights on the parcel, issued a statement today acknowledging the dispute.
“We are aware of the complaint and have retained counsel to research it and respond accordingly, said Sean Ross, director of forestry operations for Lyme Timber.
In a statement, Patrick Van Buskirk, managing member of Champlain Gas, said the “mineral assets beneath these acres are extremely valuable” and suggested that they might include rare earth elements, iron ore, and sand and gravel.
If the court confirms that a third party controls mining rights on the parcel, it could complicate the state of New York’s efforts to protect these timberlands from industrial development.
But it appears that only a small portion of the land deal — struck between the state and Lyme Timber in 2007 — will be affected.
Overall, the conservation effort involved 278,000 acres of former International Paper lands. Only 13,724 acres are entangled in this case.
We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.