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LAKE GEORGE  The state added 1,436 acres in three towns to the New York State Forest Preserve after a $1.7 million purchase earlier this spring.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the state’s purchase of the Berry Pond tract from the Lake George Land Conservancy using money from the Environmental Protection Fund.

The transaction took place in late March and connects nearly 10,000 acres of protected land, including links to Prospect Mountain, lands owned by The Nature Conservancy, the Department of Environmental Conservation sustainable forestry easement lands and other open space land owned by the village and town of Lake George.

The tract is included in the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan as a priority conservation project.

The Berry Pond Preserve includes 1,436 acres in the towns of Lake George, Warrensburg and Lake Luzerne, including the headwaters of West Brook, which feeds into Lake George’s southern basin. The land conservancy purchased the tract in January 2008 for $2.65 million as part of the collaborative West Brook Conservation Initiative, according to the news release from Cuomo’s office.

“Because water quality in this part of Lake George is closely tied to the health of West Brook, purchasing the tract will help to protect these waters. The property will be added to the state Forest Preserve and the state will pay full local property and school taxes on the newly acquired land,” according to the release.

Sarah Hoffman, communications and outreach manager for the Lake George Land Conservancy, said the public shouldn’t notice any changes yet as far as management of the property.

Eventually, state trail markers will likely be placed when it is added to the state’s unit management plan.

“There will be no changes to the way it is now. It could be a year or two years before anything could happen, so people should expect, for the time being, it will remain as it is,” Hoffman said. “Although we’re not actually doing any stewardship on the trails, we do have a brochure that has a trail map, and we will continue to have that available to people through our office and through our website (www.lglc.org),” Hoffman said.

In an interview in April, Land Conservancy Executive Director Jamie Brown said “That (transferring to the state) was sort of the idea all along. There are some properties we buy and decide it makes more sense for us to own. There are other properties that it makes sense for the state to own.”

“The Berry Pond Preserve is an integral part of both the local ecosystem and the region’s economy, and we will ensure that it remains pollutant-free and accessible for families and visitors alike to enjoy for years to come,” Cuomo said in the release.

The Berry Pond trails can be accessed through the village of Lake George’s Recreation Center trail system. The open water wilderness and wetlands in the tract is home to wildlife such as beavers and great blue herons.

In the news release, state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury; Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury; Chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty; Lake George Mayor Robert Blais; Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson; and Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino all lauded the purchase as important for the environment and the economy, connecting trails that are used for outdoor recreation tourism year round.

Follow Amanda May Metzger on Twitter @AmandaWhistle and read her blog at poststar.com/app/blogs.

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