The state has acquired another 8,451 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands in and around the Adirondacks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced.
The latest acquisitions include several parcels in Saratoga County that lie outside the Adirondack Park but previously were owned by Finch Pruyn and have recreational potential.
Separately, the state also announced Wednesday the classification for use by hikers and others of 930 acres of the Big Indian parcel recently acquired in the Catskill Park.
The new acquisitions in the Adirondacks are the third in a series of purchases, and follow the purchase of the Essex Chain of Lakes and OK Slip Falls properties in the central Adirondacks. The state eventually plans to acquire 65,000 acres of former timber lands now owned by The Nature Conservancy.
“Expanding the state Forest Preserve will provide new year-round recreational opportunities to New Yorkers and tourists alike and continue to grow the North Country’s economy,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The $5.7 million purchase price for the 14 pieces of property involved in the transaction is coming from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which prompted the Adirondack Council to call for an increase in that fund in the 2014 state budget.
“These lands are less well-known than the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands near the High Peaks and Upper Hudson River, but are very valuable to public recreation and tourism,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.
The lands acquired include 3,820 acres known as the Benson Road property in Fulton County. Located in the towns of Mayfield and Bleecker, it borders the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest and “features habitat for black bear and bald eagles, regionally rare plants like Canadian burnet, spruce northern hardwood forests and connects snowmobile trails,” according to the state’s description.
In the Saratoga County town of Greenfield, outside the park and just north of Saratoga Springs, the acquisitions include three parcels totalling 936 acres that had been leased to a mountain bike club. The land includes “attractive hilly terrain, wetlands, marshes and riparian habitats,” according to a statement.
Cuomo’s office said the closings also clear the way for the town of Edinburg to buy 1,248 acres of forest on Fox Hill Road, with plans to make recreational improvements.
Other new acquisitions include Black Spruce Mountain near Lake George, two properties in Hamilton County that include parts of the Northville-Placid Trail, and more than a mile of Hudson River shoreline in North River in Warren and Essex counties.
Cuomo also announced the availability of $875,000 in recreational development or smart-growth grants to Adirondack communities, with money coming from The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Protection Fund.
In the Catskills, meanwhile, the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday announced that 930 acres of recently acquired Forest Preserve lands on the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain in Shandaken, near the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, have been classified for recreational use.
Some 630 acres will be classified wild forest and added to the Shandaken Wild Forest, while 300 acres will be classified as wilderness and added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area.
“This property offers a range of year-round activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and more. We encourage people to enjoy these lands throughout the year,” said DEC Commissioner Joseph Martins.
The lands are part of 1,200 acres the state acquired in 2011, some of which were added to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.