October 6, 2001
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF OVER 26,000 ACRES OF INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY LAND IN THE ADIRONDACKS
Early in October, DEC circulated Governor Pataki's announcement that the State and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have reached a formal agreement to preserve 26,562 acres of land in the Adirondacks that TNC recently acquired from International Paper Company (IP) for $10.5 million, primarily in the town of Long Lake in Hamilton County.
In the press release, which is reprinted in full on the PRFA web site, the Governor described an arrangement reminiscent of the 1999 Champion International purchase, where all 298 hunting cabins are scheduled to be demolished. But the fate of any hunting clubs was not discussed. He stated vaguely that part of the land, primarily along waterways, but of unstated width, will become Forest Preserve (which is constitutionally "Forever Wild") and that the remainder will be held as conservation easements "to allow for ecologically sustainable forestry practices." Neither TNC's profit from the flip of the land nor TNC's final stake in the deal was revealed.
Reports earlier this year have pointed out the backing for the deal by the Adirondack Council, representative of environmentalists who have wished for a long canoe trail that will be completed as a result of the waterway acquisitions. They also advocate the consummation of the deal because the IP land is adjacent to the Whitney Estate, which they revere as the "Bob Marshall Wilderness" and which the State is acquiring one large piece at a time by working also through TNC.
Local support may also already be assured. Thomas Bissell, the town supervisor of Long Lake, supports the deal because of the State's promise to respect the local economy by completing a major snowmobile trail and maintaining the IP conservation easement land in productive forestry. To garner local support, when Governor Pataki prominently mentioned the prospective deal in his "State of the State" address in January, he promised to enact a bill containing a system of reimbursement to local municipalities for real estate tax exemptions granted to the timber industry.
Except for the concern expressed by the Property Rights Foundation of America about the long-term future of forestry on land subservient to conservation easements, no suspicions about this system of splitting the title were raised in interviews published in the press. When the land buy was first announced in January, Carol LaGrasse was quoted in an article about PRFA's opposition in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
"'We're worried on many fronts,' she said. 'We are 100 percent opposed to easements We believe private stewardship is the best way to manage land...There has been debate for the last 10 years over the constitutionality of easements, and we will be looking over everything in this case thoroughly.'"
Governor Pataki's Press Release