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Government Land Acquisition —
New York

New information added on July 3, 2011

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 News Brief

"Before Leaving Office, Gov. Pataki Announces Preservation of More Than One Million Acres; Northern Counties Suffer Population Declines"-News Brief, PRFA, March 2007

February 6, 2006
Open Space Plan Public Comment Time Extension Denied
- Letter from Susan Allen, Editor & Publisher, Adirondack Park Agency Reporter, to Francis Sheehan, N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation

April 23, 2004
260,000-acres of International Paper Co. in Adirondacks to be "Protected"
In celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2004, Gov. George E. Pataki announced the biggest acquisition of land in the Adirondacks yet - 260,000 acres of International Paper Co. forest in 9 counties and 34 towns within the Adirondack Park, nearly all of IP's Adirondack holdings. In a deal involving the Conservation Fund, the State will own 2,000 acres in fee simple and will acquire conservation easements in 255,000 acres. Full story

"Gov. Pataki's State of the State: The Land Acquisition Threat Among Platitudes & Promises" - PRFA, January 2004.
Gov. Pataki announced that the State has now "protected 500,000 acres," of his targeted ten-year
goal of one million acres of land.

September 2002:
"Governor Pataki Announces Plan to Preserve an Additional One Million Acres of Land"

November 2001:
"Open Space Plan Reveals the Same Old Illegalities—DEC Fails to Reveal Full Extent and Impact of its Land Acquisition Plans" - Press Release (PRFA, November 13, 2001)

October 2001:
DEC Open Space Conservation Plan
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have revised the land acquisition plan, "Conserving Open Space in New York State 2001." The 485-page draft plan and generic environmental impact statement describe the philosophy of the two agencies and their wish lists for new government land acquisitions, and gives the regional advisory committee reports.

February 2001:
"Pataki Wants to Increase Funds to Buy Land"

See Also
See Also

APA (Adirondack Park Agency)

New York City Watershed

Champion International Lands and Lawsuit

Government Land Ownership and Control - National

Northern Forest Lands


"Vermont Study Affirms Short-term Protections for Champion Leaseholders but Rejects Perpetual Protection for the Camp Culture"


Additional Resources
Additional Resources

New York State Open Space Conservation Plan
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

French-Canadian Residents Ousted from Their Land in Indian Lake - Historian's report, posted March 2005, originally attached to New York State's 1987 management plan for Siamese Ponds area.
The "Report of the Town and County Historian of the Area Known as 'Little Canada'in the Town of Indian Lake" by Ted Aber, Historian, January 25, 1982, tells how the French-Canadian residents were, "without exception, ousted from their land" when it was sold to New York State. In 1987, the APA Siamese Pond "Wilderness" designation threatened access to the cemetery and abandoned settlement on historic John Pond Road. The State closed the old road anyway.

Essential Books & Publications
Essential Books
& Publications

Conserving Open Space in New York State—1997 promulgated by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(This is the latest revision of the Open Space Conservation Plan.)

The Property Owner's Experience—New York's Arbitrary and Excessive Environmental Regulation of Private Land and Resources - Observation and Recommendations for Reform by Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA 1998)
Publication Order Form


In-Depth Information

  • Carol W. LaGrasse"Enormous Wilderness Corridors Masquerading as Land Management Refinements" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Reprinted from New York Property Rights Clearinghouse, Vol. 15, No. 1 (PRFA, Spring 2011)
    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Strategic Plan for its 442 state forests comprising 786,000 acres outside the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves focuses on ensuring connectivity for wildlife movement between large "matrix blocks" of state forests maintained as mature cover connected with wide, natural strips of land with a high percentage of forest cover. This system would enhance connectivity though deep forested areas from Ontario to Georgia.
  • Adirondack Council Displayed Its Real Character - Letter to the Editor, By Carol W. LaGrasse, Published in The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.
    The Adirondack Council displayed its real character with its mean-spirited attack on the APA Local Government Review Board when they passed a resolution against the State of New York acquiring 60,000 acres of sustainably harvested timber land formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn Co. of Glens Falls.
  • Letter to U.S. Representative Scott Murphy about importance of Federal Fair Housing Act to deal with Adirondack housing issue, by Carol W. LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., February 15, 2010
    Letter by Carol W. LaGrasse follows up August 2009 letter personally presented to Rep. Scott Murphy, and further urges him to bring the federal Fair Housing Act to bear on the APA and DEC obstruction of access to housing.
  • "Hunting Camps to be Saved on Champion Conservation Easements" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, PRFA, January 2010
    Over ten years after Gov. George Pataki announced that all 298 hunting camps on the former Champion International lands would have to be removed, the DEC has issued a revised conservation easement to allow 200 camps on the easement lands to remain in perpetuity. This will continue the long-standing cultural and social tradition of allowing people to enjoy local hunting and fishing clubs in the Adirondack region, according to DEC. The original plan was "a mistake," the lands and forests director said.
  • "The Meaning of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve" - By Peter J. LaGrasse, Chairman, Stony Creek Board of Assessors, Thirteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Lake George, N.Y., October 17, 2009)
    The meaning of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve is made clear by a study of the technical literature of proponents and a map study of the state acquisition of land in the Adirondacks since the designation in 1989. The core area, reserved to be without human influence, is defined as all of the state-owned land. The areas between the state-owned land in 1989 are rapidly being filled in with fee simple state acquisitions and state purchases of conservation easements. The Biosphere Reserve designation, which is under UNESCO auspices, is at the heart of the goal to depopulate the region.
  • "The Adirondack Park Agency Idea" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, President, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., Thirteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Lake George, N.Y., October 17, 2009)
    The idea of the Forest Preserve changed from one of protection of the forest in the late nineteenth century to assure a benefit to the state as a whole (primarily the protection of the flow of water to assure commercial navigation on the Erie Canal and the Hudson River) while extending fair policy to the local people, to the current state policy of radical preservation, massive state land acquisition, and a systematic program to cause the depopulation of the local people in a vast region many times the size of the original Forest Preserve.
  • "State Acquisitions for Adirondack Forest Preserve Have Monumental Hunting Impact" - Two-page flyer published by Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., February 8, 2009
    The Department of Environmental Conservation misleads the public about the purpose of land acquisitions for the Forest Preserve. State ownership does not to increase access, as claimed. This flyer summarizes ten years of DEC's actions to impede and close hunting access; eliminate hunting camps; lock out snowmobilers, ATV's, and motorized vehicles; and close roads and state campsites. A roster of major land acquisitions is also included.
    Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • "Governor's Proposed State Tax Cap Would Be A Tax Outrage" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. Reduced size version (pdf) of advertisement that appeared in the Adirondack Journal, January 31, 2009
    A cap on the State payment of property taxes to localities within the 6,000,000-acre Adirondack region would gradually cause a damaging and destructive shift of the tax burden to the already restricted and weak local economies. Fair play demands that the Legislature's long-established doctrine to pay local taxes be upheld.
  • "Governor's Tax Cap Threatens 125-Year-Old Covenant to Pay Local Taxes" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., February 12, 2009
    When the New York State Legislature established the Adirondack Forest Preserve, the Legislature followed the recommendations of the official commission, which concluded that because the protection of the forest "would be chiefly for the benefit of the rest of the State," the State should "hereafter bear taxes upon its lands in the Adirondack region." It may take 125 years, but with control of much of the land, preservationists control the tax base and future.
  • "Statement in Opposition to Issuance of Tax-exempt Bonds to Finance The Nature Conservancy Acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. Lands" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, President, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., December 2, 2008 (Public Hearing held by the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority, City of Glens Falls, N.Y.)
    The proposed issuance of $45 million in tax exempt bonds by the Colorado authority to refinance The Nature Conservancy's borrowing to acquire the 160,540 acres of Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands in the Adirondack "Park" should be disapproved by the IRS because the transfer of this acreage in fee simple and perpetual conservation easements will foreclose forever the development of these lands, further desiccating the economy and future of the communities. About 100 square miles of the tract, the finest timber producing land, would be transmitted in fee simple to become part of the "forever wild" Forest Preserve, where logging would be prohibited.
  • "Comments on Granting The Nature Conservancy Tax-exempt Loan to Pay for the Purchase of Finch Pruyn land in the Adirondacks, New York State" - By Peter J. LaGrasse, Chairman, Stony Creek Board of Assessors, December 2, 2008 (Public Hearing held by the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority, City of Glens Falls, N.Y.)
    Using the example of the eradication of development potential in a selected section of Stony Creek by TNC's planned sale to the State of New York of either conservation easements or fee simple title, the chairman of the board of assessors of the Town of Stony Creek explains his opposition to the grant of the tax-exempt bonding bailout of The Nature Conservancy to reduce its cost of borrowing to acquire the former Finch Pruyn lands.
  • John Maye Personal Statement Against Tax-exempt Bonds for The Nature Conservancy - Transcript from public hearing held by the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority at City Hall, Glens Falls, N.Y., December 2, 2008
    After John Maye and his wife moved into their camp, The Nature Conservancy approached the couple several times to sell their property, but they weren't interested. "The Nature Conservancy was aware of the conjured up violations by APA and DEC to force the sale of my property…March 28, 2008 my total maximum penalty was $2,962,000…" The enforcement penalty was dropped after four years, but the toll on his health remains great.
  • Howard AubinLetter in Opposition to Tax-exempt Bonds for The Nature Conservancy to Acquire Land in the Adirondacks - By Howard Aubin, Councilman, Town of Black Brook, N.Y., E-mail to Frederic H. Marienthal, Attorney for Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority, November 25, 2008
    Requirements of IRS Code Sec. 147 for local government approval have not been met. In addition, The Nature Conservancy contacted an elderly couple this summer to buy their property and when the couple refused to sell, the Adirondack Park Agency threatened the couple with a $2.962 million fine. "Giving such a bond to the Nature Conservancy only helps them to terrorize more people within the Adirondacks."
  • "Colorado Tax-Exempt Bonds for TNC's New York Land-Grab" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, PRFA, November 2008
    The Nature Conservancy is looking to the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority to rescue it from the level of interest payments it is experiencing on $45 million that it borrowed to acquire 160,540 acres of forestland in the Adirondacks from paper manufacturer Finch, Pruyn and Co. to flip to the state as "Forever wild" Forest Preserve and conservation easements.
  • "Property Rights Around New York" - By Carol W. LaGrasse, President, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. (Speech to the Building & Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region, White Plains, N.Y., September 11, 2008)
    On the anniversary of 9/11, the insidious attempt to repeal new building code protections of high-rise office occupants that were the culmination of the work of the best minds in fire protection and engineering points to the true need for government that would protect the economy and property rights of New Yorkers by dealing with dictatorial historic preservation, NIMBY obstruction of local development, utility obstruction, warrantless rental inspections, overzealous wetland protection, free-wheeling eminent domain, and limitless preservation-oriented land acquisition.
  • "Black Brook Wins First Round in Fight to Block Land Acquisition" - by Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, April 30, 2008)
    Acting Clinton County Supreme Court Justice Patrick R. McGill ruled on April 21, 2008 that the State of New York could not justify its motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Town of Black Brook and Howard Aubin, personally, to assert the local veto power of the State's acquisition of 15,000 acres of Finch Pruyn lands within the town. The veto power was established by the Environmental Protection Fund act in 1993.
  • "Stop Strangling the North Country" - by Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, March 18, 2008)
    The Governor should reject the privately negotiated land deal between the DEC and The Nature Conservancy to acquire 57,699 acres of productive land that was formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn and Co. of Glens Falls for the "forever wild" Adirondack Forest Preserve and 73,627 acres of conservation easements, the bulk of the rest of the Finch, Pruyn land. Adding these vast acreages to the 3 million acres of Forest Preserve and nearly 700,000 acres of DEC conservation easements will further squeeze the economy and future of the North Country
  • "Taxes on State Lands," excerpt from Report of the Comptroller to the New York State Legislature, 1885 Assembly Document #36, (January 23, 1885, pp. 21- 24)
    This excerpt, entitled "Taxes on State Lands," from the Report of Comptroller Alfred C. Chapin to the Legislature is the result of the work of a commission appointed pursuant ty the Legislature in 1884 to "investigate and report a system of forest preservation" related to the "forests covering the Adirondack Plateau and the relations which these forests bear to the commercial and industrial interests of the State." The recommendations of the commission, known as the Sargent Commission, were of paramount influence in establishing the state's Forest Preserve policies, including that for State payment of taxes on the Forest Preserve lands. The commission's principle concern was the effect of forest devastation on "the water-sheds of the principal streams of the State."
  • "Dillenburg v. State of New York, Threat to Adirondack Tax Base" - By Peter LaGrasse, Chairman, Board of Assessors, Town of Stony Creek (March 3, 2008)
    This paper shows the results of Peter LaGrasse's research into the history and law involving the case Dillenburg v. State of New York. The historical documents demonstrate the motivation of the framers of the 1886 legislation providing for the state payments of taxes on the Forest Preserve land on the basis of statewide benefit. However, LaGrasse expresses concern with the State Supreme Court Chautauqua County (which is under appeal) decision because this court precisely followed a State Court of Appeals case.
  • "A Sound, Consistent Policy" - "Worth Commenting" By Carol W. LaGrasse, PRFA, January 2008
    Since 1886, the State has paid real estate taxes on its Adirondack Forest Preserve, now amounting to three million acres contained within the six million-acre "Blue Line" of government and private land in northern New York, because the State-owned lands provide a statewide benefit of, first, watershed protection, and, additionally, more recently, environmental preservation envisioned by statewide residents. The economic sacrifice of the 100-plus towns and villages in the Adirondacks has been recognized for over a century, as well. Legal action to end these tax payments, in Dillenburg vs. State of New York, is not justified.
  • "'Smart Growth' to the Rescue" - By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, July 27, 2007)
    The Spitzer Administration announced on July 17 that it was setting aside $1 million for "smart growth" planning to revitalize the economy of the Adirondack region. But the Adirondack region already suffers from the groundbreaking 1973 smart growth-style Adirondack Park Agency Act. The economic difficulty of the of the 12-county Adirondack region is caused by the State Adirondack Park Agency's radical land use controls and the State's voracious appetite for land, driving up the price of real estate beyond local means and leaving little land for any practical use.
  • "Unbridled Radical Preservation" - By Carol W. LaGrasse (Reprinted from New York Property Rights Clearinghouse, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2007)
    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, known as DEC, has (with the State parks office) finalized its new Open Space Conservation Plan, dated November 2006, but available only during spring 2007. The plan reveals that the State currently owns 4,327,000 acres in fee simple plus 731,000 acres in conservation easements to save "open space," or a total of 5,058,ooo acres. All government "open space" land ownership in New York, in both fee simple and conservation easements, totals 5,486,500 acres. In 424 pages plus nine appendices, the plan describes the means of government ownership and control to preserve open space and the countless new goals to acquire and control more land.
  • "New York Property Rights Directions"-Speech by Carol W. LaGrasse, Cato Institute Conference-"Property Rights on the March: Where from Here," December 1, 2006, Washington, D.C.
    An overview of where property rights stand in New York, what the directions are, and where the work for our cause has been effective: focusing on the battle to keep land in private hands, holding off extreme land-use regulation, the issue of conservation easements, regional preservationist land-use battles, ubiquitous zoning conflicts; and eminent domain.
  • "Open Space Plan Announces Another Feeding Frenzy on Private Property"-By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, February 2006)
    DEC's 2005 Draft Open Space Conservation Plan is based on unjust treatment of rural New Yorkers, insider relationships with land trusts, and violation of environmental law. The plan should be revamped and reissued in draft form to comply with environmental law, revealing government land ownership and protection inventories for each political subdivision and with the full extent of the ultimate acquisition plan divulged for the state and each political subdivision.

Photo Gallery
  • "Illegal, Unjust, and Irresponsible" - by Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, January 17, 2006)
    DEC 2005 Draft Open Space Plan fails to reveal full extent and impact of its land acquisition plans, violates the principles of environmental justice and good government.
  • Susan Allen"They've Got a Little List" - An original poem by Susan Allen. The poem was read at the DEC hearing for the Open Space Plan at Ray Brook, New York on Nov. 14, 2001. Inspired by The Mikado, with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan.
  • "Governor Announces Acquisition of over 26,000 acres of International Paper Company land in Adirondacks" - PRFA Bulletin, October 6, 2001
    In early October, DEC circulated Governor Pataki's announcement that the State and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have agreed to preserve 26,562 acres of land in the Adirondacks primarily in Hamilton County, that TNC recently acquired from International Paper Company (IP) for $10.5 million. The land deal appears to be a mix of fee simple and conservation easements, modeled after the Champion International acquisition.
  • "Governor Announces Preservation of Adirondack Tracts" - Reprinted from New York State Environment, published by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, October 2001 (dated "Spring/Summer 2001")
    Official press release about deal to acquire 26,562 acres of International Paper Company land.
  • "Land acquisition push gains steam" - by Carol LaGrasse, reprinted from Hamilton County News, Feb. 18, 1992
    An array of programs created by environmental preservationists are aligning to effectively promote government acquisition of Adirondack land. (This February 1992 article, posted in May 2009, sheds light on two decadesso farof land acquisition policy.)

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