The Nature Conservancy Offering Protected Lands for Sale in the Adirondacks Sustainable Forestry to Continue

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1 News release For immediate release August 21, 2008 Contact: Connie Prickett, (518) x162, The Nature Conservancy Offering Protected Lands for Sale in the Adirondacks Sustainable Forestry to Continue KEENE VALLEY, NY The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy today announced that it will list for sale under conservation easement approximately 90,500 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. commercial forestland holdings in upstate New York. The sale, being brokered by the real estate company LandVest, is part of the Conservancy s multi-tiered conservation plan for the 161,000 Adirondack acres it purchased in June Historic land protection project takes shape The Conservancy has, over the last 14 months, been evaluating ecological values and working with partners and a variety of stakeholders to develop a plan for the future of the entire property. Our ecological assessments, timber inventories and harvest modeling have helped to inform vibrant discussions with state and local leaders, as well as thousands of stakeholders, said Michael Carr, executive director of the Conservancy s Adirondack Chapter. Protected by a conservation easement, the working forest lands being offered for sale will continue to contribute to the park s wild feel, intact nature, and economic underpinnings just as they have for more than a century. The plan for the future of the entire 161,000-acre holding is being developed in cooperation with partners like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Open Space Institute, community officials, and other stakeholders. It was projected to take months from the time of the Conservancy s purchase, and aims to balance ecological protections with sustainable timber harvesting, while preserving the tradition of hunt club/recreational leases and providing new recreational opportunities for the public. A tall order, says Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, referring to those objectives. The Conservancy is rising to the challenge, striking a balance that some thought would be impossible. Working forests for sale The approximately 90,500 acres currently listed for sale are being offered subject to a conservation easement and a fiber supply agreement. The former ensures that ecological systems, such as river corridors and high elevation spruce-fir habitats, are protected. The latter helps to keep much of the -more-

2 land available as a pulp wood source for the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls, New York. The property is currently managed under two green certifications: Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Those sustainable forestry practices will continue under the conservation easement. In a nutshell, the conservation easement, a legally-binding agreement, on the sale lands permits or requires some land uses and activities, and prohibits others, as described here: Prohibited Required Permitted residential, industrial and commercial development subdivision of the property beyond the five sale blocks biological inventory work to assess the status of natural communities and processes and measure changes over time implementation of a biological monitoring program for longterm forest-health recreational leasing commercial mining and landfilling any uses of the property that will impair natural communities and species classified as endangered, rare, or of special concern sustainable timber harvesting fisheries management sell or gift the property The listing features five sale blocks ranging from 1,691± acres to 58,502± acres. Interested timber investors may submit an offer on one or more of the blocks and must contact LandVest to participate in the bidding process. Much of the property being offered for sale is currently leased on an annual basis by hunt clubs and families for recreational purposes. This fall the Conservancy is offering current leaseholders an opportunity to renew for three years instead of the typical one-year term. The conservation easement will permit leasing to continue at the option of the new woodlands owner(s). In the future, the easement will also open some new lands to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities. For now, use of the property remains restricted to leaseholders, Nature Conservancy staff, and woodland managers/contractors. There is no new public access at this time. However, the public is welcome to enjoy the forests where public easement rights-of-way currently exist, such as the popular hiking trail to Blue Mountain and the Blue Ridge Road access to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. The Conservancy will keep the public informed as the status and ownership of the lands change. To learn more about the lands being offered for sale, visit and search for Upper Hudson Woodlands under commercial properties. -more-

3 Planning for the future From an ecological perspective, the former Finch lands are part of a globally important landscape that represents one of the last best chances anywhere to preserve a large, intact temperate deciduous forest system, one of the most degraded and fragmented forest types on earth. The Conservancy continues to work with partners and stakeholders to determine the ultimate disposition for the entire property, which touches 27 towns in six counties. The most ecologically significant areas will be afforded the highest levels of protection. Tens of thousands of acres, with tremendous public recreation values, will be sold to New York State as additions to the forever wild Forest Preserve. Other areas, such as those being offered for sale with LandVest, will accommodate compatible uses. Some properties, within several hamlets, will be set aside for community purposes. The combination of new public lands, privately owned and protected working forest lands, and community enhancement parcels will sustain and enhance a wide array of economic activities, as well as protect key natural resources for generations to come. Tracking more than a year s worth of progress The announcement about the plan for the northern holdings (83% of the property), jointly released in February 2008 with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is available online at It covers lands in North Hudson, Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, and Minerva. Each of those town boards has since passed a resolution approving the plan. For all past announcements and additional information, including a short video and slide shows, about The Nature Conservancy s historic land purchase in the Adirondacks, visit ### The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Adirondack Chapter, based in Keene Valley, New York, currently employs a staff of 25 and has protected 556,572 Adirondack acres since The Chapter is also a founding partner of High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants. On the Web at

4 THE NATURE CONSERVANCY LISTS 90,500± ACRES FOR SALE IN THE ADIRONDACKS Questions & Answers 1. Is the land for sale part of the former Finch, Pruyn commercial forest holdings? Yes, it represents over half of the 161,000 acres The Nature Conservancy purchased in June Why is The Nature Conservancy selling so much land? How does this sale fit into the Conservancy s overall protection plan for the former Finch property? Fourteen months ago, our scientists were handed an enormous job: to evaluate 250 square miles of terrain. Using a combination of GIS modeling and field work, they ve not only documented the natural composition of the property, but also evaluated its quality. The information they are collecting feeds directly into our protection plan. Some lands will be afforded the highest levels of protection as additions to the forever wild Forest Preserve. Other properties, such as the lands being listed for sale, can accommodate compatible uses while still contributing to the overall ecological health of the Adirondacks, and the world s temperate deciduous forests, which represent the most degraded and fragmented forest type on the planet. 3. What about the rest of the land? We are still working on the disposition plan and anticipate putting additional lands under working forest conservation easement. 4. Where is the land for sale located? What is the asking price? From Newcomb to Greenfield, the properties touch six counties and approximately 27 towns, mostly within the Adirondack Park boundary. They are being offered in five sale blocks ranging from 1,691± acres to 58,502± acres. The real estate broker LandVest (www.landvest.com)is handling the sale; potential buyers must contact them for details about each of the sale blocks and the bidding process. 5. What will The Nature Conservancy do with the money it gets from the sale? TNC will use it to pay off some of the $110 million we borrowed to purchase all 161,000 acres. We are also hard at work raising $35 million of private funds to underwrite the conservation gains in the transaction. 6. What will happen to the recreational leases on the property for sale? The conservation easement will permit leasing to continue at the option of the new landowner(s). This fall the Conservancy is offering current leaseholders an opportunity to renew for three years instead of the typical oneyear term. The leases will transfer to the new landowner(s). 7. What does the conservation easement mean for the sale property? The easement specifies that the land will be managed on a sustainable basis for forest products; restricts both private and commercial development; and will provide for some public access in the future. 8. Will logging continue? Yes, the objective of the conservation easement is to keep these lands commercial working forests. The property is currently managed under Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative certifications. There is a fiber supply agreement in place that requires pulp wood from this property to go to the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls, New York. 9. I want to buy some property for my family camp, why is The Nature Conservancy selling the land in such large sale blocks? There are a number of factors that play into the configuration of the sale lands; some having to do with economies of scale when it comes to fulfilling obligations associated with the longterm fiber supply agreement. It would be impossible to meet those obligations if the property were divided into a bunch of smaller ownerships. The way the sale is structured there 1 08/22/08

5 could be one, but no more than five, new owners; each must demonstrate established timber management experience. From an ecological perspective, too, our aim is to keep the land unfragmented so it can continue to function ecologically and we can monitor changes over time something that would be impractical to coordinate and accomplish with, say, hundreds of owners instead of a handful. 10. Why did The Nature Conservancy buy the former Finch, Pruyn lands? The Conservancy has been a leader in Adirondack conservation for nearly 40 years. During that long tenure, we ve worked with a variety of private landowners from timber companies to families and partners to protect more than 550,000 acres lands. The former Finch property stands out among the Adirondacks large private landholdings because of its size, location, condition, relation to major rivers, and biological and scenic richness. Preserving the property advances the Conservancy s goal to protect major habitat types throughout the world and this is a key tract in that larger global conservation vision. 11. Is The Nature Conservancy acting on behalf of New York State? No, this is a private sale. TNC purchased the former Finch lands because of their ecological significance. However, by subsequently partnering with New York State, we can achieve a broader range of objectives for the benefit of New Yorkers, local communities, and many sectors of the local and regional economy. 12. How is The Nature Conservancy Funded? The Nature Conservancy is funded through donations by private individuals, foundations and businesses. From our base of operations in Keene Valley, New York, the Adirondack Chapter s board of trustees and fundraising staff are responsible for raising the money it takes to work in the Adirondacks. working cooperatively with DEC to ensure that key tracts are protected as new public lands while others continue to support the timber industry. When New York State acquires land or interest in land (through a conservation easement), it pays real property taxes, a significant source of income for local communities. DEC s land protection activities are guided by the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan, which is updated every few years. The plan for Region Five (the only region wholly within the park), for example, lists the Hudson River as an important natural resource and these lands make up 12% of the Upper Hudson Watershed. 14. How is the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) involved in the sale? As a private landowner, The Nature Conservancy must obtain APA approval to divide properties that qualify as single blocks according to APA private land use and zoning regulations. There are a couple of places on the former Finch lands where the plan calls for a portion of one block to be added to the Forest Preserve in the future and another portion of the same block to be protected by a working forest conservation easement and sold to a timber investor. 15. Why would a conservation organization be willing to sell land to a timber company? How is forestry compatible with conservation? Conservation lands and working forest lands can go hand-in-hand. Through the conservation easement the lands will be kept intact; thereby, averting the pressing threat of development. In working with timber organizations, we find a common vision for Adirondack forests in which key ecological features are preserved and the surrounding forests continue to be sustainably and productively managed. We re proud of this aspect of the Adirondack conservation legacy. 13. How is New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) involved in the sale? The DEC will be the ultimate holder of the conservation easement on the sale lands. In recognition of the property s extraordinary ecological and economic importance, we are 1 08/22/08

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