Conservation Fund buys 23,000 acres of forestland in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts
ALBANY, N.Y. — The Conservation Fund announced that it has purchase 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, N.Y., and Bennington, Vt., according to a Conservation Fund news release Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Located in Rensselaer and Washington Counties in New York, Bennington County in Vermont, and Berkshire County in Massachusetts,; the Cowee Forest lands were assembled over generations to support a wood products manufacturing mill in the Rensselaer Plateau and Taconic regions, and the lands were sold to an investment fund 10 years ago, according to the release.
The Conservation Fund purchased the property through its Working Forest Fund, with 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.
A large portion of the permanent conservation funding for the New York portion will come from the U.S Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Situated within the viewshed of the Dickinson Hill Fire Tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cowee Forest lands in New York contain a portion of the Albany Road to Massachusetts, a Colonial highway dating to 1753 and the first road that crossed the Plateau and Taconic Mountains. The land will also be managed for improved wildlife habitat for seven species of national importance, such as the New England cottontail, and four hawk species listed by the New York State Endangered Species Act – Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk and northern goshawk.
– The Conservation Fund