September 10, 2014 LGLC Announces Completed Conservation Projects, Changes Ahead
Major conservation projects and organizational accomplishments in 2014 give LGLC a remarkable start to its second quarter-century of conserving land on Lake George
The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) has had a banner year so far, and anticipates more to come before its end. In the past nine months, LGLC has protected 462 acres of Lake George watershed lands through partnerships, purchases, donations and conservation easements, and is working on plans to protect over 750 acres in the near future.
Land conservation projects have been completed in five towns around Lake George, including Bolton, Hague, Putnam, Fort Ann, and the Town of Lake George. The projects protect in-tact forests, wetlands, rocky slopes and ridges, and streams, as well as important wildlife habitat.
In addition to its direct conservation work, LGLC also achieved land trust accreditation in August from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. This distinction signifies LGLC’s commitment to meeting national standards for excellence, as a transparent, efficient, and trustworthy organization.
All of this also comes as the organization prepares for a change in leadership. Executive Director Nancy Williams will retire this fall, and LGLC’s Board of Directors hope to have a new executive director in place by January of 2015.
“My retirement is bittersweet,” said Williams. “My spirit will always be here at Lake George, and in the memories of some of our greatest projects: working with an unlikely partner to protect the Padanarum lands; discovering the resident bobcat at the Last Great Shoreline and using that (and unfortunate leg traps set for the area’s beavers) as inspiration for the development of Lake George’s first managed wildlife refuge; and the summer that I worked alongside our stewards to create the Friendship Garden at Peggy’s Point. Most of all I will miss the people who made these projects possible.”
“When I began my service as board president,” reflected LGLC Board President John Macionis, “the first major task on my plate was to conduct a search to find a new executive director. That search brought Nancy to the Lake George Land Conservancy. During my tenure, if there was one thing I think I did right it was hiring Nancy. Even if that were the only thing I did right, it would still have made all the difference. Nancy has been an extraordinary leader. She combines extensive land acquisition experience with engineering knowledge, fund-raising skills, and great personal warmth in a way that has won the respect and admiration of the lake community. Replacing her will be quite a challenge!”
Completed Projects in 2014:
Putnam – Last Great Shoreline
More than 30 people took part in a celebration at the Hague Community Center on June 13th, marking the end to a five-year fund-raising campaign and giving thanks to the 400+ people who contributed to the protection of the Last Great Shoreline in Putnam. The 351-acre property, which includes Jumping Rock and is located directly across the lake from Hague, was purchased in 2009 for $4 million. The final mortgage payment was made February 27, 2014.
“This land is the heart of the Lake George Wildlife Refuge,” said Williams. “Its protection would not have been possible without the support of the Rowan family, who provided a loan for the purchase, and the many individuals who contributed over the past five years. In addition to the lands providing important water quality protection with its ponds and wetland system, the Refuge has amazing potential for economic development in the area through geo-tourism, as an educational resource, and for the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat.”
An essential linkage between the Last Great Shoreline property and LGLC’s Gull Bay Preserve to its south was achieved through a purchase of 3 acres in April. A through-trail has since been created and the whole trail system of nearly 6 miles is now open to the public. The trail system also includes access from the water, thanks to a new dock that was installed in July.
The LA Group, a landscape architecture and planning firm out of Saratoga Springs, partnered with LGLC this summer to assist in the development of a master plan for the wildlife refuge, providing guidance on land conservation goals, educational tools, and public access. The LA Group is contributing their expertise at no cost.
Fort Ann – Donation
David Van Hart of Pilot Knob donated 63 acres in Fort Ann to LGLC in June of 2014. Located off of Ridge Road (Route 9L) just south of Pilot Knob Road, the property serves as a southern anchor for the greater Pilot Knob ridge area, which is of conservation interest to LGLC as Lake George watershed lands and its visible slopes and ridges.
The forested property includes streams, wetlands, and ledges that are visible from Lake George and provide clear views of Dunham Bay Marsh and French Mountain. Though not currently open to the public, LGLC hopes to connect this land to its popular Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob less than 1.5 miles to the north.
Hague – Purchase
LGLC recently completed an amazingly successful fund-raising campaign for the purchase of 120 acres in the Sabbath Day Point-Silver Bay area from the Terzian family. In just three months, nearly $90,000 has been raised by neighbors and others who wished to see this land protected and available for public use. LGLC will purchase the land for $75,000 and use the additional funds to cover legal fees and stewardship projects.
The property is adjacent to uplands owned by New York State and the Silver Bay YMCA. Its purchase by LGLC ensures the protection of a Lake George tributary, and will provide public access to beautiful forests and ridges. In partnership with Silver Bay, LGLC hopes to create a marked trail system from Route 9N to connect with Silver Bay’s existing trails and scenic lookouts.
Lake George – Donation
The owner of a 175-acre Lake George property known as Matty’s Mountain has agreed to donate the land to LGLC, completing the protection of the headwaters of West Brook in the south end of Lake George. The property is bordered by LGLC’s Berry Pond Preserve on three sides, making it an ideal addition to the preserve, and already includes trails used by the local snowmobile club.
LGLC purchased the adjacent 1,400-acre Berry Pond Preserve in 2008 for $2.654 million with the understanding that, as a land of interest to New York State, it would be sold and added to the Lake George Wild Forest. A contract with the State has been completed and its sale for $1.724 million is now anticipated by the end of 2014. LGLC also anticipates selling the Matty’s Mountain piece to New York State in the future to be added to the Berry Pond lands.
Bolton – Easement Donation
A brilliant partnership between a landowner, a town and a land trust has resulted in the protection of an 84-acre property within the Edgecomb Pond watershed, the drinking water source for the Town of Bolton. LGLC Advisory Board Member Rebecca Smith purchased the forested property with the intention to donate a conservation easement to LGLC and then sell the protected land to the Town at a greatly reduced price. Closing on the transaction is set for September 16, 2014.
Since nearly all of the land’s water runs directly into Edgecomb Pond, its protection means the safeguarding of the Town’s drinking water. The property also adjoins New York State’s Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, and will provide additional public recreational resources and protected wildlife habitat.