Wildlife and forest lands to be protected
Rick Karlin ALBANY TIMES UNION ; July 28, 2020
PETERSBURGH — New York in recent weeks finalized the acquisition of 5,789 additional acres in the Taconic Mountains that will protect open space as well as protect the hiking, hunting and other outdoor activities that exist along the popular area near the Vermont and Massachusetts borders.
The lands acquired by the state from The Conservation Fund include 2,446 acres adjoining the Taconic Ridge State Forest and 3,343 acres being added to the Berlin State Forest.
Much of the Taconic area is near the Taconic Crest Trail which runs 37 miles from near North Pownal, Vt. across New York’s Petersburg Pass to near Pittsfield, Mass.
The trail also runs through the popular Snow Hole, a cave-like crevice north of the pass that often retains snow until late in the season.
“Getting outside and enjoying nature has been one of the few pleasures for many New Yorkers during these challenging times and with the continued expansion of preservation we are providing even more opportunity for recreation while ensuring that critical open spaces are protected,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the land acquisition.
“The Taconic Ridge provides stunning, sweeping views of the rich environment and thanks to our preservation efforts it will be a destination for New Yorkers for generations to come.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently acquired the four old Cowee Forest parcels, known as the Stickles, Nugent, East Mountain, and Misery Mountain tracts, from The Conservation Fund using $4.85 million from the state Environmental Protection Fund. These acquisitions will double the size of the Taconic Ridge and Berlin state forests and provide critical connections to recreational resources, including access to the Taconic Crest Trail.
The purchases also protect tributaries of the Little Hoosic River, one of New York State’s wild trout streams. As part of DEC’s state forests, these lands will be managed for multiple uses, including timber production, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
“It made sense,” Tom Duffus, vice president and northeast manager for The Conservation Fund, said, pointing out that these are adding to the larger surrounding region known as the Rensselaer Plateau.
Duffus added that the purchase is part of a larger 16,000-acre working forest on the Rensselaer Plateau.
“New Yorkers and visitors alike will have new opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Taconics thanks to these significant acquisitions, which will expand the Capital Region’s State Forests,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
In addition to expansive forest, the area includes unique wetland communities and lots of diverse wildlife. The area has black bear, fisher, otter, bobcat, and moose, and is included on National Audubon Society’s list of Important Bird Areas in New York.
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