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For Release: Friday, May 10, 2013

DEC Prepares Plan to Open Up Sacandaga West Conservation Easement Lands to Expand Public Recreation Opportunities

Public Meeting to be Held on May 22 in Mayfield

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is preparing a recreation management plan (RMP) for the 3,200-acre Sacandaga West Conservation Easement lands in Fulton County, DEC Commissioner Martens announced today.

The Sacandaga West Conservation Easement lands consist of six separate tracts in close proximity in the towns of Mayfield and Bleecker. Four tracts are located in the Town of Mayfield: 813-acre Jackson Summit Road West, 588-acre Dennie Road Tract, 345-acre Ferguson Mountain Tract and 46-acre Jackson Summit Road East Tract; while two tracts are located in the Town of Bleecker: 789-acre Hohler Road Tract and 619-acre Benson Road Tract.

"While there are currently few developed recreational facilities in the Sacandaga West easement, the area offers great opportunities for cross-country skiing, hiking, snowmobiling and wildlife viewing," said Commissioner Martens. "The management plan for the sacandaga West easement lands is consistent with Governor Cuomo's vision to increase recreation and tourism opportunities in the state and would open these lands for the first time ever to hiking and crosscountry skiing while maintaining snowmobile access. These improve the outdoor recreational opportunities would link many local communities to the southern Adirondacks."

Public involvement is essential to the development of a recreation management plan. DEC is seeking information and ideas that will lead to clearly stated goals and objectives for the care and stewardship of these lands. Everyone with an interest in the area is encouraged to participate in the planning process by providing information and suggestions for its management.

A public open house for the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement RMP will be held on Wednesday, May 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mayfield High School auditorium. The open house will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with DEC staff and share their thoughts, ideas and suggestions regarding management of these lands. This will be the first of many opportunities for the public to be involved in the planning process.

The lands of the Sacandaga West "block" are part of the 89,000-acre Upper Hudson Woodlands Conservation Easement which was formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Co. New York State purchased the easement in 2010 prior to the lands being sold to the current owner - Upper Hudson Woodlands ATP.

The conservation easement primarily protects these lands from development and ensures the ability to continue sustainable forestry practices. Limited public recreation rights were also purchased under the conservation agreement. The lands contain many opportunities for recreation, habitat preservation and nature study.

The lands of the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement have a long history of timber harvesting which has created an ecosystem that is typical of other Adirondack easement lands. Many small wetlands and ponds within the easement drain to the Great Sacandaga Lake. The aquatic and terrestrial resources of these lands provide many ecological benefits and opportunities for wildlife observation and open vistas.

Several common borders of the easement are shared with existing Forest Preserve lands. In addition, the Benson Road Tract borders a parcel which the state intends to purchase in fee within the next five years. The Tolmantown Road, Tannery Road and County Route 125 are the predominate points of access for the public to the tracts.

Much of the public's interest is in the recreational opportunities available include: snowmobile trails on the Benson Road and Hohler Road tracts; cross-country skiing on the Dennie Road Tract; and a hiking trail on Bernhardt Mountain which has views of the Great
Sacandaga Lake and surrounding hills.

DEC will draft a recreation management plan for these lands based on the public recreational rights identified in the conservation easement agreement and the comments received from the public. A Draft Recreation Management Plan for the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement Lands will be completed by DEC and released for public review and comment in the near future.

Any interested individual or organization wanting to be included on a mailing list for information about the development of the recreation management plan or wishing to submit comments is encouraged to contact planning coordinator Allison Buckley, NYSDEC, PO Box 1316, Northville, NY 12134. Ms. Buckley may be reached by telephone at 518-863-4545 ext 3007 or by e-mail.

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