The Open Space Institute has acquired the historic Marion River canoe carry and 295 surrounding acres in Hamilton County.
There has been concern about preserving access to the canoe carry in recent years, after the owner announced plans to build several homes along Utowana Lake. The acquisition will ensure the carry remains open to the public.
“The potential for development made the Marion River Carry a higher, more immediate priority for conservation,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the private non-profit land preservation organization.
The OSI is paying $2 million for the land, and hopes it will eventually be acquired by the state to become part of the Forest Preserve, said Katie Petronis, the organization’s land project manager and assistant counsel. “We think that would be the right outcome,” she said.
The purchase includes frontage on Utowana Lake and the roughly half-mile carry, which paddlers have used for more than a century to travel between Utowana Lake and the Marion River, going around rapids. The Marion can then be paddled to Raquette Lake.
Recreation advocates were concerned because of a proposed five-lot subdivision proposed by landowners Dean and Donna Pohl of Raquette Lake that was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in March 2011.
OSI officials said the acquisition ensures that the carry, as well as hundreds of acres of Adirondack forest, will remain open to the public.
“We just thought the scenic and recreational value couldn’t be overlooked,” Petronis said.
The modern history of the carry goes back to 1899, when great camp developer William West Durant built a rail line along the canoe carry. At 1,320 yards, it was the shortest standard-gauge railroad line in the United States. It operated until 1929, carrying tourist passengers between steamboats and to a country club Durant had in the Blue Mountain Lake area.
Since the railroad closed, the canoe carry has remained an important link in one of the Adirondack Park’s most popular canoe routes. With only the short carry, it’s possible to canoe from Blue Mountain Lake to Indian Lake along a series of lakes and the Marion River.
Private landowners have traditionally permitted the public to use the Marion River Carry. However, recognizing it as an important public recreation resource, the state Department of Environmental Conservation listed the property as a priority acquisition in its 2009 Open Space Plan.
The newly acquired property includes approximately 280 acres of forest lands, three acres of the Marion River and 14.5 acres of Utowana Lake frontage.
The Open Space Institute is fundraising for the $2 million cost of the Marion River Carry property. Anyone interested in contributing can contact Tally Blumberg at (212) 290-8200 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.