More Room to Roam for Re­cre­ation­ists

Modern Pioneer - - Pioneer Post -

The Con­ser­va­tion Fund re­cently pur­chased 23,053 acres of work­ing forest­land in New York, Ver­mont and Mas­sachusetts. Known as Cowee For­est, the ac­quired lands pro­vide crit­i­cal con­nec­tions to ex­ist­ing con­served ar­eas and recre­ational re­sources, in­clud­ing ac­cess to the Ta­conic Crest Trail and the Rens­se­laer Plateau, as well as pro­tec­tion for im­por­tant wildlife habi­tat within a short drive from Al­bany, New York, and Ben­ning­ton, Ver­mont.

Lo­cated in Rens­se­laer and Wash­ing­ton Coun­ties, New York; Ben­ning­ton County, Ver­mont; and Berk­shire County, Mas­sachusetts; the Cowee For­est lands were as­sem­bled over gen­er­a­tions to sup­port a wood prod­ucts man­u­fac­tur­ing mill in the Rens­se­laer Plateau and Ta­conic re­gions. The lands were sold to an in­vest­ment fund 10 years ago. The Con­ser­va­tion Fund rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing that the valu­able re­sources of this large for­est, in­clud­ing wood sup­ply to lo­cal mills that sup­port nearly 100 forestry-based jobs, was pro­tected from both sub­di­vi­sion and con­ver­sion to non-for­est uses.

The Con­ser­va­tion Fund pur­chased the prop­erty through its Work­ing For­est Fund, with gen­er­ous sup­port from the Richard King Mel­lon Foun­da­tion, al­low­ing time for the cre­ation and im­ple­men­ta­tion of per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion strate­gies with the New York State Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion, com­mu­ni­ties and other lo­cal part­ners while pre­vent­ing frag­men­ta­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the land. Dur­ing its tem­po­rary own­er­ship, The Con­ser­va­tion Fund will pay prop­erty taxes and will sus­tain­ably man­age Cowee For­est for tim­ber re­sources and a va­ri­ety of con­ser­va­tion ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing wildlife habi­tat pro­tec­tion and pub­lic recre­ational ac­cess for hik­ing, bik­ing, fish­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing and cross-coun­try ski­ing.

More than 16,600 acres of Cowee For­est are lo­cated in eastern New York, with lands ad­ja­cent to the Cap­i­tal District Wildlife Man­age­ment Area, Cherry Plain State Park and nu­mer­ous State Forests, in­clud­ing Ta­conic Ridge, Ber­lin, Bat­tenkill and Goose Egg State Forests.

The Con­ser­va­tion Fund’s Work­ing For­est Fund uses con­ser­va­tion-fo­cused for­est-man­age­ment strate­gies to en­hance for­est health and pro­duc­tiv­ity, wildlife habi­tat and wa­ter qual­ity, while sup­port­ing the eco­nomic well be­ing of sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. With more than half of Amer­ica’s 751 mil­lion acres of forests vul­ner­a­ble to frag­men­ta­tion and con­ver­sion to other uses, the Work­ing For­est Fund is a ded­i­cated source of con­ser­va­tion cap­i­tal and tim­ber­land ex­per­tise de­signed to quickly ac­quire threat­ened forests with high con­ser­va­tion value. Over the last three decades, The Con­ser­va­tion Fund has pro­tected more than two mil­lion acres of forest­land na­tion­wide.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Cowee For­est plan and other work that The Con­ser­va­tion Fund is con­duct­ing, log on to con­ser­va­tion­fund.org.

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