Governor Pataki Meets Million-Acre Goal (NY)

December 21, 2006
New York

New York, NY, December 21, 2006: Governor George E. Pataki and The Trust for Public Land announced today a deal to place a conservation easement on 51,000 acres of forest lands in St. Lawrence County. The deal builds on Governor Pataki's unprecedented conservation efforts over the past 12 years and passes a milestone for his administration—over one million acres protected.

"Today, we have truly reached a milestone, having preserved more than one million acres of critical lands across the state so that all New Yorkers and the many generations to follow will be able to enjoy the beauty of our unparalleled natural resources," Governor Pataki said.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization that negotiated the easement over land owned by Rayonier, a leading international forest products company with 2.7 million acres of timber and land in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia under management, has worked with Governor Pataki and his administration on over 50 land conservation deals—more than any other organization.

"We will all forever benefit from Governor Pataki's passionate leadership in conserving natural lands and creating parks throughout New York, from the cities to the wilderness," said Rose Harvey, senior vice president for The Trust for Public Land. "A million acres of new parkland now connects tens of million New Yorkers to the land and nature and in this connection foster a larger and essential land ethic."

The easement on the property in the towns of Colton, Clifton, and Clare, vastly increases the opportunities for public access while at the same time preserving the environmental, scenic and economic quality of the property forever. To the benefit of the local economy the land will remain productive working forest, but the easement will also enhance recreational opportunities in the area and protect the contiguous forest lands in the Adirondack Park, including extensive stretches along the Middle and North branches of the Grasse River. The company will continue to practice sustainable forestry and private recreational leasing on its property,.

This effort provides multiple recreation opportunities for the public, including boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. The public will gain access to more than 26 miles of Middle and North branches of the Grasse River corridor along a 200-foot buffer on both banks of the river. The property will be accessible to the public for hiking, fishing, boating, and camping. The Middle and North branches of the river are designated Scenic Rivers within the state's Wild, Scenic and Recreational River system. As part of the agreement with Rayonier, LLC, the state also will acquire public fishing rights on nearly 16 miles of the Grasse River tributaries, including Gulf Brook, Alder Brook, Bear Creek, Pleasant Lake and Stream, and Stony Brook. In addition, the public will have access to several travel corridors on the property and more than 90 miles of existing snowmobile trails will be permanently secured for public use.

"Rayonier has a long history of promoting the recreational use of working forests," said Lee Nutter, Rayonier Chairman, President, and CEO. "We are particularly pleased by this opportunity to collaborate on a project that marks an historic milestone in Governor Pataki's and the State of New York's conservation efforts and adds to the public's enjoyment of an extraordinary national, natural resource."

Since 1995, New York has undergone one of the largest expansion of the state park system in its history, with 27 new state parks created, and five more soon to be opened. In addition, the acreage of state parks has been expanded in every region of the state.

The Trust for Public Land has worked with the governor and the staff of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect more than 100,000 acres during his administration.

"It might be a little surprising for people to know that this governor has been equally focused on protecting land in and around metropolitan areas as he has in more remote places like the Adirondacks—a move that has impacted millions of state residents and visitors and helped drive the economy," said Harvey.

Other New York State highlights of The Trust for Public Land under Governor Pataki:

* Sterling Forest: In 1998, New York State, New Jersey, the federal government, and non-profit organizations worked together to purchase the first 15,280 acres that created Sterling Forest State Park. Since the initial announcement, another 3,000 have been added to the park, including 575 acres announced last month.

* Mount Loretto: Nearly 300 acres overlooking Raritan Bay on Staten Island's south shore.

* Woodlawn Beach: 93 acres on the east shore of Lake Erie just south of Buffalo (the first new State Park created in New York in decades).

* Jamesport: An agreement with Keyspan in 2002 enabled the protection of more than 533 acres of open space in the towns of Riverhead and Southold in Suffolk County for parkland and agriculture use. In 2005, 253 acres of this land was designated as Jamesport State Park and Preserve, the 20th new state park designated by the Governor.

* Fahnestock: Through a series of acquisitions since 1995, Clarence Fahnestock State Park has more than doubled in size, from 6,670 acres to 16,171 - more than 9,000 acres. TPL collaborated with its partner, the Open Space Institute on a number of the deals making up this expansion.

* Shawangunk Ridge: Together with our partner, the Open Space Institute, TPL has protected approximately 20,000 acres on and around this beloved ridgeline, including the Awosting Reserve and the Lundy Estate.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected more than 2.2 million acres of land nationwide, including more than 126,000 acres throughout the state of New York.