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February 1, 2013

Land near Poke-o-moonshine to be protected

NEW YORK — A private landowner has donated a conservation easement that will protect a nearly 1,400-acre forest in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park.

The parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Poke-o-moonshine Mountain, the Open Space Institute said in a news release. It sits within the viewshed of the historic firetower on the summit of Poke-o-moonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers.

In 2009, the Johanson family donated a conservation easement encumbering about 1,400 acres of land in the Town of Chesterfield. The new donation protects adjacent lands, also owned for decades by the family.

Both donations were made to the Open Space Conservancy, which is the institute’s land-acquisition affiliate.

Eric Johanson began traveling to the Adirondacks with his parents in the late 1940s. He purchased a 175-acre tract in the area when he was 19 years old, then acquired other contiguous parcels over time to create a sanctuary he called Baldface Mountain Preserve.

“The Adirondack Park is an international treasure, and we are glad to play our small part to ensure that it is conserved for generations to come,” Johanson said in a statement.

The conservation easement permits future subdivision and modest single-family residential or limited commercial development of two lots. It will otherwise restrict development and subdivision.

It will permit passive recreational use and sustainable forestry, in accordance with a forest management plan that is acceptable to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Johanson family retains ownership of the land and may pass it on or even sell it, although any future owners must adhere to the terms of the easement.

In many cases, conservation easements are an effective tool for achieving conservation goals, according to the Open Space Institute. Easements maintain scenic viewsheds, preserve ecological habitat and protect historic and agricultural landscapes while keeping the lands in private hands and on local tax rolls.

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