UPDATE: Cuomo commits to spend $49 million in “historic” expansion of Adirondack forest preserve

OK Slip Falls is one of the iconic landscapes that will be protected by this 69,000 acre conservation deal. (Photograph by Carl Heilman, courtesy of Adirondack Nature Conservancy)

In a ceremony Sunday afternoon in Lake Placid, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a contract committing New York state to the purchase of roughly 69,000 acres of Adirondack timberland over the next five years.

The deal was described as the largest single expansion of the ‘forever wild’ forest preserve in the last century.  Cuomo himself described the project as “a gift to our children.”

The move came as a surprise, with state and local officials learning only Saturday evening that the governor would make a trip to Lake Placid for the announcement.

The vast conservation project had been engineered by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, just before the national recession ravaged New York state’s budget.

State officials had suggested that it might be years before the so-called Finch Pruyn lands could be acquired.

DEC commissioner Joe Martens, former leader of the Open Space Institute, described the project as a highlight for his career as a conservationist and an environmental official.

The agreement signed Sunday offers a new degree of security to the Nature Conservancy, which had struggled to manage the vast debt it incurred to launch this deal.  The group raised $35 million in private contributions to aid in financing.

While green groups hailed the decision — which will protect scenic headwaters of the Hudson River, as well as wild remote lakes — some local government officials have raised questions about the state’s ability to provide stewardship for the land.

One of the deal’s staunchest critics, state Senator Betty Little, was not on hand for the ceremony.

But one local official, Democratic town supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey from Minerva, said the purchase would open up new lands in her community where local residents and tourists could hike, boat and fish.

And Republican assemblywoman Teresa Sayward gave the state and the Nature Conservancy high marks for their negotiations with towns inside the affected area.

Communities were offered a chance to acquire parcels of land that can be used for future projects.

NCPR will have details as well as more reactions to the historic deal Monday morning.


UPDATE: DEC Commissioner Joe Martens just confirmed that NYS will buy 65,000 acres of timberland over the next five years. Calls it biggest expansion of Adirondack forest preserve in 100 years. Gov. Cuomo calls deal ‘ahas gift to our children.’

I am waiting at the conference center in Lake Placid for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to arrive. Sources here say he will lock the state into a five year plan to purchase a huge swath of new timberland for the Adirondack forest preserve. The deal has been a priority for green groups. Details soon…

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14 Comments on “UPDATE: Cuomo commits to spend $49 million in “historic” expansion of Adirondack forest preserve”

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  1. marquil says:

    This looks very much like a panicky diversion from all the focus on his drive for hydrofracking NY’s Southern Tier as well as his overall push for jobs at the expense of environmental protection. This initiative, while undoubtedly good for the ecology of the Adirondack Park, probably bears ominous overtones for residents living above New York’s Marcellus Shale. Message: neutralize the damage of the fracking policy, don’t reverse it.

  2. mervel says:

    Great news!

  3. mervel says:

    It depends if the residents need a good job or not marquil.

  4. Jeff says:

    Maybe this will ease the minds of those who were repulsed by the development plans in Tupper Lake. But we still can’t afford it. The gift to the children will be paid by their grandchildren. We’re bailing out the Nature Conservancy? Is this a TARP or a tent!

  5. Gary says:

    I have mixed emotions. In the last ten years the DEC has put up several metal fences to eliminate access to areas that were once available. Why buy land if the tax payers can only appreciate it as they fly over it!

  6. Alan Gregory says:

    As I often said while stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in the late 80s, Adirondack people are quite lucky to live amid a strong public land base. This is, after all, a wonderful legacy for generations to come. I moved to Vermont a year ago to be close to both my late wife’s family here as well as the Adirondacks. Remember folks: Public land does not require any service paid for with tax dollars. No sanitary sewer lines, no extra police, no burden on the local school system, no road maintenance, etc.

  7. Hank says:

    Congratulations to all residents of New York for this great achievement!

  8. Deb Evans says:

    is there a map?

  9. Larry says:

    Yeah, what great news. The state is practically bankrupt, Adirondack residents are getting hammered by runaway taxes, and the economy (especially locally) is in a shambles, but Cuomo finds $40M + for this. Some people will not be satisfied until all residents are driven from the Adirondacks.

  10. Paul says:

    Let the public have at it….

    Too bad.

  11. Mervel says:

    After living in other parts of the US, the treasure of having this much land open that is relatively undeveloped and yet still close enough for us to get into, is really really unique. I think it is worth it, it is a great long term investment.

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    New Yorkers are fortunate to have this resource. Its money well spent.

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