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For Release: Wednesday, April 24, 2013

State to Purchase 2,460 Acres of Land in the Lake George Watershed Region

Cat and Thomas Mountains and East River Road Acquisitions Protect Important State Forestland and Water Quality of the Lake

Through the Environmental Protection Fund, New York State has purchased more than 2,460 acres that will help protect the world-renowned scenery and water quality of Lake George and its tributaries, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today as part of DEC's weeklong celebration of Earth Day.

The purchases include the Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel, a 1,900-acre property in the town of Bolton (Warren County), previously acquired by the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC), which was sold to the State for $1.5 million. The State also purchased the 565-acre East River Road Tract of the former Finch lands in the Town of Bolton from The Nature Conservancy for $381,000. This parcel is adjacent to the Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel. The parcels will be added to the State Forest Preserve. The State will pay full local property and school taxes on the newly acquired land.

"By increasing open space funding by $2.5 million in this year's budget, Governor Cuomo has placed a priority on preserving and conserving New York's natural resources," said Commissioner Martens. "These land acquisitions ensure that a key drinking water supply in Lake George's watershed remains undeveloped permanently. This investment of $1.8 million to protect the 'Queen of New York Lakes' is part of a comprehensive effort by the State to maintain the Lake's outstanding water quality, slow the spread of invasive species and promote outdoor recreation and tourism. With this acquisition, the State now fully manages 46 percent of the land area of the watershed, most of it in beautiful forests that encourages outdoor recreation and protect the lake."

A portion of the Cat and Thomas property also includes approximately 65 percent of the watershed encompassing the Town of Bolton's drinking water supply at Edgecomb Pond. Finkle Brook, which is the primary source for Edgecomb Pond, runs entirely on either Cat and Thomas Mountains or on the water district's property.

Nancy Williams, Executive Director of LGLC, said, "We are thrilled that DEC is purchasing Cat and Thomas Mountains, these jewels of Bolton Landing, and that the land will now be protected forever as part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. We have always felt a special responsibility to protect these mountains. They provide not only an important destination for tourists but many residents regularly enjoy the hike along our trails."

State Senator Betty Little said, "This parcel is part of the Lake George watershed. The State's
acquisition is a small but very important investment that will benefit those depending on the lake for drinking water and help ensure Lake George remains a premium tourist destination in the years ahead."

State Assemblyman Dan Stec said, "As an avid hiker, I can attest to the breathtaking views Cat and Thomas Mountains provide of Lake George. I also remain committed to protecting the water quality of Lake George, as well as the drinking water for the residents of Bolton. This acquisition will both provide recreational opportunities and preserve water quality for the residents of the Lake George area."

Ron Conover, Supervisor of the Town of Bolton, said, "We are fortunate that LGLC purchased Cat and Thomas in 2003 and protected our water supply pond, Edgecomb Pond. The trail system throughout Cat and Thomas Mountains attracts tourism dollars to the community and LGLC has always actively participated to provide more incentives for people to enjoy Bolton Landing."

Mayor of the Village of Lake George Robert Blais said, "With this acquisition, the State of New York has once again demonstrated their partnership with our local communities in protecting our drinking water supply, maintaining the high quality of our lake and preserving our beautiful forests and recreational opportunities for generations to come."

The Lake George Land Conservancy has developed an extensive trail system within Cat and Thomas Mountains and thousands of hikers register annually and enjoy the trails. Bolton Landing is a popular tourist center and many come to hike these mountains. The mountain peaks provide spectacular views of Lake George, Gore Mountain and Vermont's Green Mountains.

The Cat and Thomas Mountains parcel are now open to the public and will remain open. A loop trail beginning at the year-round maintained parking lot off Valley Woods Road provides for a leisurely but moderately difficult six-hour hike. An easier hike from the parking lot to the beaver ponds below Cat Mountain may be as short as one hour. LGLC has applied to DEC to continue to maintain the trails through DEC's Trail Cooperative Agreement program.

The East River Road parcel is expected to be open to the public in October 2013.

The LGLC priorities for Cat and Thomas Mountains have been to protect the drinking water supply of Bolton Landing, the pristine water of Lake George and the magnificent view of these forested mountains from all vantage points. The LGLC has partnered with DEC since 1988 to protect Lake George.

Adding these properties to the Forest Preserve protects the natural resources and spectacular scenery of Bolton Landing and protects nearly the entire watershed of the town of Bolton's water supply at Edgecomb Pond. The State will develop recreational plans and work with the Adirondack Park Agency to determine classifications of the lands to encourage public access and appropriate use of the properties while also protecting their outstanding natural resource values.

When classifications are approved, DEC will develop Unit Management Plans to protect the resources and to continue the work of LGLC to promote increased tourism. A public comment period will be held for the Unit Management Plan.

The Lake George Land Conservancy is a non-profit land trust dedicated to working with willing landowners to protect the world-renowned water quality of Lake George and to permanently preserve the natural, scenic, historic and recreational resources of the Lake George region. Since its inception in 1988, LGLC has helped to preserve more than 13,500 acres around the Lake George watershed and 9.2 miles of lake shoreline.

A map of the new acquistions (PDF) is available. Images from the press event can be found on DEC's ftp site.

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