Hunting clubs to stay on forest lands
The Associated Press | October 13,2006
ALBANY, N.Y. — The state announced a revised agreement with a forestry company Thursday that would continue 220 Adirondack hunting camp leases on the former Champion International timberlands in the northwestern Adirondacks.
Gov. George Pataki said the accord includes transfer to the state of 2,698 acres in the Deer River corridor from a 110,000-acre parcel owned by Heartwood Forestland Fund III. New York already owns about 30,000 acres of the former Champion lands and holds conservation easements on the rest.
The 1999 deal was considered a linchpin in what could be Pataki's chief legacy as governor — preserving more than 1 million acres of wilderness and open space across New York through purchases or perpetual easements that prevent development and permit public recreation.
Originally the leased camps on the easement property acquired by Heartwood were to be removed by 2014. Instead, Heartwood will now have the discretion to let the camps, which pay rent, stay in one-acre areas after 2014, according to Pataki's office.
Meanwhile, the entire 139,000-acre woodland will be open to public hunting, except the one-acre camps, after the 2008 deer hunting season.
Supervisor Steve Bory said people were elated in Hopkinton. "This has been a major concern for a lot of our residents since 30 to 40 camps in our town are being used by third and fourth generations of the same families," he said.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said the revised deal threatens the forest preserve, river corridors and even Pataki's environmental legacy with the continued use of hunters' ATVs and snowmobiles, which are already a problem in the area. He said that was not the conservation deal's original intent.
"The deal is being amended so now the hunting camps are going to stay in perpetuity," Woodworth said. "Are the all-terrain vehicles going to be used only on the one-acre footprints?"
The Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks also criticized the change, saying it reduces public recreation rights. "We find this to be a dirty deal by the governor in the last months of his term," executive director Peter Bauer said.