LAKE LUZERNE — The Open Space Institute has purchased part of West Mountain to protect the woods and wetlands forever.
The land is home to a great blue heron rookery, and OSI described it as an ideal habitat for deer, turkey, bears and bobcats. It is one of the only remaining habitat links between Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Adirondacks.
The West Mountain property is one of five properties, totaling more than 3,300 acres, the institute has protected in support of creating a connected “green corridor” in the Palmertown Range. This purchase has allowed the institute to nearly triple the size of the Ralph Road State Forest.
The West Mountain property, 1,260 acres, is next to the Ralph Road State Forest and lies between the southeastern boundary of the Adirondack Park and Moreau Lake State Park.
“In addition to protecting water quality and helping to capture greenhouse gas emissions, the acquisition of the West Mountain property strengthens ongoing efforts to connect visitors with the countless recreational opportunities at the Ralph Road State Forest and elsewhere in the Lake Luzerne area,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos in a news release.
The property is in the Hudson River watershed, land that filters water before it reaches the river. The watershed is considered a crucial part of protecting the river.
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Open Space Institute analyzed the property from a climate protection perspective and determined how much carbon it captures. The mountain is heavily forested and stores about 116,000 metric tons of carbon, or more than 90 metric tons per acre, which is considered well above average.
“In fast-growing regions like Warren County, it is becoming rarer to find a property of this size that exemplifies the many benefits of protected land — supporting clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation and the storage of carbon to help fight climate change,” Open Space Institute President and CEO Kim Elliman said in a news release.
The property is expected to be added to Ralph Road State Forest using environmental protection funding.