Land conservancy hosts symposium, adds workshops
July 29, 2016
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE – Outdoors Writer (email@example.com) ,Adirondack Daily Enterprise
LAKE PLACID – “Protection isn’t going to be measured by the yard; it’s going to be measured by the inch,” Rocci Aguirre of the Adirondack Council said.
“Some of the really critical stuff is in these small patches,” added the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Michale Glennon.
And The Nature Conservancy’s Chris Jage put it plainly: “Easements are the backbone of conservation.”
Lake Placid Land Conservancy is focusing on areas around Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Jay in which it hopes large landowners will take an interest in engaging in conservation practices.
The three panelists at the Lake Placid Land Conservancy’s symposium on conserving private land had a common theme. With as much land as the state has protected within the Adirondacks, private land owners will be the next step in helping preserve natural systems and cycles.
The symposium, held at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid Wednesday night, brought together about 50 people interested in seeing how the land conservancy planned to get private land owners on board with the conservation agenda.
One of the most common conservation tools used in the Adirondacks are conservation easements. An easement is a deal where the land owner can receive benefits such as tax breaks for promising not to develop a large piece of land. Sometimes the public is given access to the land and often the owners can continue to use the land for activities such as logging.
But there is a spectrum of tools available to those who would like to see large land parcels protected from subdivisions and developments. Jeff Graff, executive director of the conservancy, said the conservancy’s upcoming community workshops are targeted at people who own 50 acres or more, and he hopes they will come on board somewhere along the conservation spectrum.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness about conservation, but to really listen to what landowners are interested in,” Graff said. “We can look at data and analyze things, but really it’s about getting to understand the needs of the people in the community.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to guide us and provide us with really important information.”
Graff said the goal over the next year is to get 20 to 25 landowners on board with conservation efforts that could range from an easement on one end to simple ecological monitoring on the other.
Jage stressed the importance of connectivity within ecological systems, and said a lot of large parcels butt up against already protected state land.
“Whittling away around the edges. That’s where you’re going to see the impacts,” Aguirre said.
Glennon added that while most people are thrilled to see wildlife in their yards, those species just happen to be the ones that are good at exploiting human habitat.
“But there’s a whole lot of other species” that need non-human habitat, too, she said.
She also said the places that are protected already by the state, like the High Peaks Wilderness, are the places humans wouldn’t do so well living in, and that’s why it’s important to conserve private land.
“The rocks and ice are the places that didn’t work so well for us, so that’s why we put that in parks,” she said. What’s left after rocks and ice are set aside are places where people live. But those lowland areas are equally important to plants and animals.
The conservancy will be hosting three workshops in the next two months. There will be one in Lake Placid on Aug. 3, in Jay on Aug. 10 and the final one of the year in Saranac Lake on Sept. 7.
To learn more about the conservancy and the upcoming workshops, visit www.lakeplacidlandconservancy.org.