Croghan Tract Conservation Easement
In 1999 the State of New York purchased 29,000 acres in fee and an additional 110,000 acres of conservation easements from Champion International Corporation. This acquisition consists of three noncontiguous blocks, known as the Santa Clara, Tooley Pond and Croghan tracts, covering portions of ten towns in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Lewis Counties. The fee lands were purchased for their outstanding natural resource values, significant stretches of high quality recreational water, and other recreational opportunities. The acquisition of a conservation easement on the remaining lands will keep those lands as working forests while providing public recreation opportunities. This web page deals exclusively with the conservation easement lands located in Lewis County, covering 13,054 acres and known as the Croghan Tract.
Location and Access
The Croghan Tract is located in Lewis County in the Towns of Croghan and Watson. The majority of the area is located north of the Beaver River, between the Fish Creek Road and the Prentice Road. A lesser acreage is located south of the Beaver River.
To reach the Croghan Tract - From the north, take NYS Route 812 to the Old State Road, about 3 miles north of Croghan. Turn left onto Old State Road (by the DEC sign on standard). At Belfort, continue straight on the Long Pond Road. There is a kiosk and map at the Fish Creek Road intersection (approximately. 2 miles east of Belfort) that shows the location of all State and Easement lands in the area - including the Croghan Tract easement lands.
The following apply to the Croghan Tract:
- All public access and recreation on this property is subject to the pending Recreation Management Plan.
- Public motor vehicle access to these lands is restricted to signed, designated access roads or public highways. Access roads may be closed seasonally.
- Snowmobile use is permitted on designated roads and trails.
- Public hunting, fishing and trapping are permitted on both conservation easement and forest preserve lands subject to standard NYS regulations.
- Please adhere to signage noting closures due to forest management activities. Also, please respect camp leases on the property.
- Please do not trespass on adjacent private lands. The perimeter of Easement lands are generally marked with yellow paint blazes and signed with Easement signage, or with Forest Preserve signage if the easement land is adjacent to Forest Preserve.
The Croghan Tract is one of the more remote areas of the Adirondacks. Since European settlement of the region, in the 1870's, the area has been owned by a series of large and small timber companies and utilized primarily for timber production. The limited road network through the property stems primarily from these activities. The area has a long tradition of use for hunting, fishing and trapping.
The Croghan Tract is located in a transitional area between the Tug Hill Plateau and the more rugged area of the Adirondack Mountains. The terrain is generally rolling, with hardwood forests covering much of the area. Several major streams are located on the Croghan tract including, Fish Creek and Roaring Brook.
The streams, rivers, ponds and lake on or adjacent to these lands contain a variety of fish. Brook trout are found in Mud Pond, both French Ponds, Sand Pond, as well as Fish Creek and Roaring Brook. Bullheads are found in Mud Pond, Sand Pond and both French Ponds. Mud and Sand Ponds also have pumpkinseed.
Wildlife is plentiful throughout the Croghan Tract. Visitors may see or hear white-tailed deer, black bear, raven and gray jay, coyote, red fox, fisher, red squirrel, chipmunk, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and wild turkey. Along the shorelines, bald eagle, muskrat, mink, otter, beaver and raccoon may be observed. Various songbirds typical of deep woods and disturbed areas are present throughout the area.
The Soft Maple Reservoir Waterway Access Site provides access to a great opportunity for smallmouth bass fishing. The site provides parking and a short accessible path designed for use with mobility devices and is suitable for launching a canoe or small cartop boat onto the reservoir. This access came about through an agreement with the power company which owns the shoreline of Soft Maple Reservoir and access roads cross Croghan Tract of the Champion Conservation Easement lands. These facilities are in the Town of Watson.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
From the West: Take NYS Rt 812 south about 17 to 18 miles from Harrisville or Rt 812 north 12 to 13 miles north from Lowville to the intersection with Old State Road. Go east on Old State Road to Belfort. In Belfort take Long Pond Road east. At mile 2 miles, Long Pond Road makes a sharp left at Fish Creek Road, proceed another 2 to 2½ miles to the Prentice Road. The preferred route is to continue on the Fish Creek road, but currently the bridge over Fish Creek is out. The alternate route is to turn right onto Prentice Rd. Follow the Prentice Rd and make a quick right near mile 7. Proceed south past the accessible trail at Sand Pond, cross Roaring Brook and continue on the Main Haul Road about 5 miles and the access site is on the left, before the bridge out on Fish Creek.
Information Requests, Camping Permits, and Suggestions
If you would like additional information on the Croghan Tract or on any other lands administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation please consult the DEC Supervising Forester at the office below. Normal office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
For camping permits, contact Forest Ranger John Scanlon at (315) 376-3225. If no answer, call (315) 376-3521 during normal office hours. Please plan ahead and secure your camping permits at least two weeks prior to your scheduled trip.
In case of an emergency (24 hours/day): Forest Fire, Search and Rescue - (518) 891-0235
The Department of Environmental Conservation welcomes suggestions on how to improve the management of this area. Please send your suggestions to:
DEC Lowville Office
7327 State Route 812
Lowville, New York 13367
More about Croghan Tract Conservation Easement:
- Croghan CE Lands Map - Location map of the Croghan Easement lands