Nonprofit environmental group Rensselaer Plateau Alliance of New York to buy 350 acres of forest from concrete supplier to use for outdoor recreation and sustainable forestry technique training for loggers; purchase price is US$300,000
POESTENKILL, New York
February 13, 2014
( Times Union)
– The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, a not-for-profit environmental group, is poised to buy its first-ever "demonstration" forest in Poestenkill in eastern Rensselaer County.
Alliance President James Bonesteel said Wednesday that the group has an agreement to buy a 350-acre forest off Legenbauer Road from a Latham gravel company and plans to develop it for outdoor recreation, as well as a training site where loggers will be taught sustainable forestry techniques.
"We will have a lot of fundraising to do," said Bonesteel, a computer software engineer from Stephentown. "But we are absolutely sure that we are going to be able to do this."
He said the not-for-profit group this week signed a contract to buy the parcel for $300,000 from Clemente-Latham Concrete.
The group formed in 2009 to promote the Rensselaer Plateau, a 105,000-acre high-country swath that is the state's fifth-largest intact forest. Last year, the alliance issued a potential road map for the area, which imagined a future of sustainable forestry, land protection and outdoor-based tourism.
Grafton Lakes State Park is perhaps the most well-known attraction in the plateau, which covers the towns of Berlin, Brunswick, Grafton, Hoosick, Nassau, Petersburgh, Pittstown, Poestenkill, Stephentown, and Sand Lake, plus the village of East Nassau.
Bounded roughly by Route 7 in the north and Route 43 in the south, the land is rugged and rocky, and rich in wildlife, as well as home to about 8,200 people. Running like a spine down the plateau from the north are the Tibbetts State Forest in Hoosick, Pittstown State Forest in Pittstown, the county-owned Dyken Pond Center, the little-known Capital District Wildlife Management Area and Cherry Plain State Park in Berlin.
Bonesteel said the alliance, which includes local business and civic leaders, has applied for a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to help support the Poestenkill purchase. Also, the group already has approval for a $160,000 loan from The Conservation Fund, a national not-for-profit environmental group, he said. Plans are for the sale to close by August.
Bonesteel said the property is a mix of northern hardwoods and conifers, and includes a tributary of the Poestenkill Creek. Initial plans call for the land to be available to the public for hiking, fishing, skiing, and, potentially, snowmobiling, if it can be connected to existing nearby trails.
Its trails would also connect to the nearby 751-acre Pine Ridge Cross-Country Ski Area, whose owner, Walter Kersch, is an alliance board member.
Bonesteel said the forest also will be used as a training site by the Empire State Forest Products Association, an industry group representing loggers and manufacturers, and which runs a certification program for loggers in sustainable harvesting techniques.
"This is a great project and we are extremely supportive of it," said association President and CEO Eric Carlson. Using state lands, the association has already trained about 2,500 loggers in such techniques, he said, and sees the plateau forest as another such training site close to the Capital Region.
"Some of our members own forests in the plateau, and depend on it as a source of wood," he said.
The alliance is holding a celebration to announce the sale at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts. Tickets are $40 and include music, dinner and a silent auction. Reservations are available online at http://bit.ly/1eUNgTs
Speakers include Congressman Chris Gibson, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino and Fran Dunwell, coordinator of the Hudson River estuary program at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
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