May 24, 2017

Land Purchase In New York's Tug Hill Plateau To Support Rural Economies

REDFIELD, N.Y.—The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced today the protection of 3,236 acres of working forestland in the Towns of Redfield and Orwell. This conservation effort will help to secure the working landscape of the Tug Hill region that provides vital economic support to local communities. 

Identified as a priority conservation area in the New York's Open Space Conservation Plan, the 3,236-acre Kendall property, located north of the Salmon River Reservoir, is embedded in a landscape with existing state lands and working forest easements. Its protection ensures ongoing timber resource production, safeguards water quality of the environmentally sensitive Salmon River and allows for continued public access to state sanctioned snowmobile trails and other outdoor recreation. 

The Conservation Fund purchased the land in 2015 at the State’s request through its Working Forest Fund® with generous support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and subsequently worked with local contractors to improve vehicular access. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) recently took ownership of the Kendall property using a grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund—a state-wide funding source for capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities.

“The abundant and often remote forests and waters of Central New York’s Tug Hill region are essential to the surrounding communities for the economic benefits they provide through the timber industry and more increasingly via one-of-a-kind outdoor recreational activities, like hunting, world-class sport fishing, and snowmobiling in some of the heaviest snowfalls in the U.S.,” said Tom Duffus, Vice President and Northeast Representative for The Conservation Fund. “We’re pleased to continue our partnership with NYS DEC and towns like Redfield to protect forestland of community- and state-wide importance; we are grateful to the ongoing support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Environmental Protection Fund; and we are committed to finding conservation solutions that enhance community vitality.”

The new state forest land will help to stem the tide of rural land division, which typically costs towns more money in services than they receive in property taxes. Towns support State ownership of working forests like Kendall is because it helps retain traditional access and jobs while protecting town budgets. 

The new State Forest land will help to stem the tide of rural land division, which typically costs towns more money in services than they receive in property taxes. State ownership of working forests like Kendall is supported by towns because it helps retain traditional access and jobs while protecting town budgets.

“Some of this land is going for top dollar, and communities can’t afford to buy it. So to have a group like The Conservation Fund to turn to, and it has the same outlook and views on saving these kind of places, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Tanya Yerdon, Supervisor for the Town of Redfield. “It has worked out for the better—better for the town, better for the forest and for the next generation.”  

In addition, the Town of Redfield, The Conservation Fund, Tug Hill Commission and the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust secured the local hunting club’s activities on a portion of the property by allowing them to retain the club’s main lodge and placing the surrounding land under a conservation easement.

"It was important to the land trust to be a part of the solution for this project by protecting the hunt club camp,” said Linda Garrett, Executive Director of the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust. “Hunt camps are an important part of Tug Hill heritage, and we wanted to ensure that both the traditional use and the vast working forests of Tug Hill were both protected.”

“If you eliminate the forest, then the community as a whole and the wilderness as whole is not going to be the same thing,” said Mike Yerdon, President of the Stavemill Hunt Club in Redfield. “For the future of the community and of surrounding communities, I think it’s important that we preserve these forests, and to have them still function for logging, hunting and fishing so people can enjoy it.” 

This conservation effort builds on The Conservation Fund’s work with the Richard King Mellon Foundation and NYS DEC to preserve 2,900 acres along the Salmon River, creating a 14-mile greenway along one of New York’s most popular trout and salmon streams. Located within Audubon’s Tug Hill Important Bird Area, the forestland also supports nearby wetlands that provide vital habitat to a variety of migratory birds that thrive in a quiet, interior forest settings.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 7.8 million acres of land, including more than 430,000 acres in New York. 

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |