The forest was sold to an investment fund and eventually put on the market, making it vulnerable to subdivision and conversion to non-forest uses, and threatening the local economy and the wildlife that depend on it.

Our Role

In 2017, The Conservation Fund purchased the property through our Working Forest Fund®. As temporary owner, we will manage the property as a sustainable working forest and will partner with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, communities and other local stakeholders across all three states to develop a strategy for Cowee Forest’s permanent protection.

In New York, a large portion of the permanent conservation funding will come from the U.S Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), spearheaded by local advocates of working forest conservation like the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA) and local landowners.

Why this project matters

Located just a short drive from Albany, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, Cowee forest is adjacent to thousands of acres of protected public land, which enhances access to popular outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The Cowee Forest lands in New York contain a portion of the Albany Road to Massachusetts, a Colonial highway dating back to 1753 and the first road that crossed the Plateau and Taconic Mountains. It also sits within the viewshed of the Dickinson Hill Fire Tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Across the country, millions of acres of forestland like Cowee Forest are at risk of being sold, as owners try to find a more profitable use for the land. With our Working Forest Fund, we are demonstrating that sustainable working forests are economically viable and are the best outcome for their communities and the environment.

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(Huffington Post)