Group to buy Camp Little Notch

The Open Space Institute plans to purchase Camp Little Notch and the 2,300 surrounding acres in Wash

The Open Space Institute plans to purchase Camp Little Notch and the 2,300 surrounding acres in Washington County from the Girls Scouts of Northeastern New York for $3.95 million, an institute official said Tuesday.

Last year the Girl Scouts decided to sell the camp, which is located on a small, 80-acre Adirondack lake, because it owns a more modern summer camp, called Hidden Lake Camp, just 15 miles away.

Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute in New York State, said the Open Space Conservancy, the institute’s land acquisition arm, is under contract to buy the property.

The land acquisition is expected to be approved later this week by the board of directors at the Open Space Institute’s annual meeting in Saratoga Springs.

Martens said the full board’s approval is expected because a board committee has studied the issue and recommended the transaction.

The property is located in the Adirondack Park east of Lake George and southwest of Lake Champlain in the town of Fort Ann.

“We are excited,” said Julie Dye, a member of the Friends of Camp Little Notch.

Dye, who grew up in Burnt Hills but currently lives in Boulder, Colo., said she started attending the camp when she was 10 and worked there as a counselor during her college years.

“It’s the kind of place that has a long-term hold on you,” Dye said. She said the unblemished Adirondack beauty of the small lake and mountains surrounding the lake made a deep impression on her when she was growing up.

The Friends of Camp Little Notch is working with the Open Space Institute and The Conservation Fund so that the Friends can purchase the camp buildings, the land near them and the pond over the next year or so.

“We will buy a portion of the property,” Dye said on Tuesday. She said the Friends has been raising money for about a year. Dye said the purchase would include “a few hundred acres” of the total 2,300 acres.

The Friends want to maintain the camp as a place where girls can have an independent, outdoor experience, just as girls have from the camp’s opening in 1939 to its closure in 2008.

The Friends hopes to reopen the summer camp program for girls in 2012, offering “high quality and innovative ‘green’ programming, wilderness hiking, biking, rock climbing and boating adventures, organic gardening and farm-to-table programs,” according to the group’s website,

The Open Space Institute likes the land purchase because the property is located between two large tracts of forest land that are designated forest conservation easement parcels.

“The reason we are interested in [the property] is because it’s a perfect fit,” Martens said.

Environmentalists say this land is a natural wildlife corridor that runs from the Lake George region east into the Green Mountains of Vermont.

A Danish company purchased the two large forest tracts several years ago when Finch, Pruyn & Co. sold its forest holdings in the Adirondacks.

The majority of the 2,300 acres purchased by the Open Space Institute, through the Open Space Conservancy, will be sold for timber production with a restrictive easement allowing only timber production or outdoor recreation on the land, Martens said.

“It will be a large, protected swath of land,” Martens said.

The Open Space Institute, a not-for- profit organization, protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes through land acquisition, conservation easements, loan programs and creative partnerships.

A price has not yet been established for the property the Friends want to purchase. An old iron smelting furnace is located on the land that dates back to the late 1700s, according to Dye.

She said the Friends has several hundred members in various parts of the country and the Capital Region. She said these people are just as passionate as she is about preserving the old scout camp and continuing to offer an outdoor experience for young girls there.

“It’s absolutely pristine,” Dye said about the property.

She added that the Friends would offer a summer camp for girls but would be open to use of the property by other organizations.

“We are willing to partner with others,” Dye said.

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