More Room to Roam for Recreationists
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.