EDWARDS — Marshy and heavily wooded, two St. Lawrence County conservation easement properties are the subjects of state recreation management plans this month.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has opened public comment on the Western Lassiter Tracts, a pair of privately owned conservation easements, through June 30.
Conservation easements are generally private-public agreements that allow private landowners to maintain some property rights — leasing and managing camps or facilitating limited timber production, for example — while the property is protected from other development. Every conservation easement is different, and DEC easements often permit public access.
The Western Lassiter Tracts, in the southern part of the county near the Edwards hamlet of Pond Settlement, total roughly 2,200 acres between the Beers Lot and Pine Hill easements off River Road. Portions of the properties were secured through the 1986 state Environmental Quality Bond Act that funded land purchases in St. Lawrence and Herkimer counties.
The tracts are now commercially managed for timber and owned by the Molpus Woodlands Group, a national timber real estate and investment company with a regional office in Saranac Lake. Streams, ponds and wetlands are prominently featured through the hardwood stands.
Beers Lot spans 1,312 acres and permits year-round recreation, including hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, trapping and cross-country skiing, though no trails are designated or maintained. A sandy road for commercial and state use cuts through the property, which is gated to all visitors’ motor vehicles. ATVs and snowmobiles are prohibited.
More remote still, the 835-acre Pine Hill property is not currently accessible to the public. Pine Hill is situated adjacent to state Forest Preserve lands and encompasses a network of ponds and wetlands just west of Beaver Lake. The entrance to Beers Lot sits across River Road from the 98-acre Bonner Lake State Forest.
Input about the tracts is sought for a draft recreation management plan, expected to identify potential facilities and additional recreation opportunities.
The public may submit comments and suggestions to Peter D’Luhosch, environmental program specialist at the Potsdam DEC office. Mailed input should be sent to Mr. D’Luhosch at 190 Outer Main St., Suite 103, Potsdam, NY 13676. Emails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.