INDIAN LAKE - Finch Paper, LLC, recently re-acquired from The Nature Conservancy a 1,700-acre tract in Indian Lake. The property was part of Finch Paper's vast commercial timberland holdings-161,000 acres in the Adirondacks-purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2007. As a condition of the 2007 agreement, Finch retained the right to re-acquire the parcel; both parties agreed to a transaction with new conservation provisions in place. It marks another milestone in The Nature Conservancy's multi-faceted conservation plan to preserve ecologically and economically important forests in the Adirondacks.
Bordering the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest to the west and the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway (state Routes 28N & 30) to the east, the 1,700-acre Hamilton County tract, includes most of Minnow and Mud Ponds and features high-quality wetlands and forests at the headwaters of the Raquette River. It was transferred subject to a conservation easement that restricts development, prohibits future subdivision, and permits sustainable forestry and recreational leasing.
"This is a wonderful multiple-use, working forest, with outstanding wood production and tremendous aesthetic and recreational qualities," said Roger Dziengeleski, the Finch vice president and certified forester who oversees the company's forest management services. "Finch foresters have looked after these lands since 1893, and we look forward to many more years of sustainable, responsible management."
Finch will continue to manage the forest according to the responsible forestry standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program, as it has since 2006.
Over the past decade, The Nature Conservancy and Finch Paper have developed a relationship not commonly found between environmental conservation organizations and forest products companies. Since the 2007 sale, Finch foresters have managed the forest lands owned by The Nature Conservancy in the Adirondack Park according to FSC and SFI standards.
"This land transfer and the conservation easement attached to it guarantee that we will continue to work cooperatively with Finch for the long-term," said Michael Carr, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter.
Finch Paper, a recognized leader in the paper and forest management industries, was the first integrated paper mill in the country to obtain both the FSC and SFI responsible forestry certifications. Under those certifications and the requirements of the conservation easement, the Minnow Pond tract will be managed to the highest sustainability standards.
"Our responsible, science-based management today will help ensure that these lands will provide wood for building materials, paper and a host of other products, along with clean air and water, for generations to come," Dziengeleski said.
"This is a positive arrangement on so many levels," said Carr, reflecting on how keeping the Minnow Pond property unbroken and sustainably managed will also mitigate major ecological threats.
Large, intact forests serve as a first line of defense against climate change and help to make the landscape more resilient to threats from invasive species. When forests have the elbow room to grow and persist over time, the pay off in terms of clean air, pure water, flood control, and wildlife habitat is immeasurable.
"We now share a property boundary with Finch Paper and together make good North Country neighbors, with each adding to the Park's economic and cultural engines," said Adirondack Museum Director Caroline Welsh.
As a privately owned property, the Minnow Pond tract is not open to the public. On the opposite side of Routes 28N & 30, however, there is a public hiking trail to the summit of Blue Mountain, where a fire tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding lands.
All previous announcements about The Nature Conservancy's 161,000-acre land conservation project can be found online at www.nature.org/adirondacks.