New York State purchases 3,200 acres in Whitehall

New York State finalized last week the purchase of 9,300 acres of the former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondacks, including more than 3,200 acres in Whitehall.

The acquisition of the properties, announced last August, ensures their continued protection and an expansion of tourism opportunities in the region.

“With these newest acquisitions, we are building upon past state investments in the Adirondacks as we enhance a world-class park that contains a wealth of private and public lands in one of the most beautiful settings on earth,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

The state purchased the property from The Nature Conservancy and paid $6.3 million for the land.

Among the property purchased are two ecologically important parcels in Whitehall.

The Saddles, a 2,540 acre-property was not part of Finch Paper’s holdings, but was acquired by The Nature Conservancy with the intent it be sold to the state.

The tract features dramatic cliffs and more than 2,250 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Lake Champlain’s South Bay. The land is a complex of streams, marshes, swamps and floodplain forests that dominate the lowlands of South Bay. Talus slopes, cliffs and northern hardwood forests characterize the surrounding uplands.

The large, intact forest, exposed rocky ridges and slopes of the Saddles Mountain provide foraging grounds for the Eastern timber rattlesnake, a threatened species, and habitat for the peregrine falcon, which is endangered. There is also a unique rice marsh as the base of the Saddles.

A second parcel, Spruce Point, also known as Dolph Pond, was also acquired by the state. This 726-acre piece will become a new state forest used for timber harvesting, hiking, hunting, camping and other recreational pursuits. The parcel adjoins state conservation easement land to the west and is within an important wildlife pathway area between the Champlain and Lake George basins and Vermont’s Green Mountains. The property features interesting ridges, a variety of forest types, including Appalachian oak hickory and hemlock northern hardwood. The area is an important habitat for black bear, white tail deer and other wildlife. 

Last August, the Nature Conservancy donated to the state the 156-acre Chubbs Dock property on Lake Champlain in Dresden. At the time of the donation, Washington County committed to the transfer to the state of 283 acres on Maple Bend Island in the same area. Eventually the Chubbs Dock property is supposed to be open to public access. 

The state last week also announced the purchase of a 1,900 acre parcel that includes Cat and Thomas Mountains near Lake George. The state paid the Lake George Land Conservancy $1.5 million for that property.

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