LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Forests in four parts of New York are getting new protections, meaning a better future facing the effects of climate change. A press conference by the state Department of Environmental Conservation was held on Friday in Lake George – part of one of the four areas reaping the benefits – to talk about the future of land trust.

“Protecting New York’s publicly and privately held forests is critical in combatting climate change because of the valuable roles trees play in absorbing and storing carbon, maintaining wildlife habitats, and reducing air pollution,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “DEC worked quickly to administer these grants to help promote forest conservation and we look forward to partnering with the award recipients and continuing our ongoing collaborations with Land Trust Alliance and land trust across the state.”

A total of around $1.35 million in land trust awards was announced at the Wiawaka Center for Women on Friday. The awards are being given out to be used for projects including stormwater mitigation, temperature regulation, carbon sequestration and climate resiliency. The funded projects include:

  • Lake George Land Conservancy
    • Warren County
    • $350,000
    • Granted for the purchase of a conservation easement on the Wiawaka Center for Women’s 47-acre property. The center sits on acres of currently undeveloped forest, featuring 1,500 feet of tributary stream and five acres of wetland that are important to Lake George’s ecology. The easement will allow the continued protection of that land from any further development.
  • Scenic Hudson Land Trust
    • Columbia County
    • $350,000
    • Granted to purchase an easement on over 200 acres, an area known as the Steepletop property. The property is surrounded by Harvey Mountain State Forest, and includes a mix of wetlands, hardwood forests and open meadows. The easement will protect the land for potential restored public access, as well as its educational and historic value.
  • Agricultural Stewardship Association
    • Washington County
    • $294,640
    • Granted to purchase an easement protecting approximately 262 acres of Sugar Mountain Forest land, connecting Mount Tom and Chestnut Woods State forests together. The region is completely forested with many tree species, including black birch, white ask, red oak and red maple.
  • Genesee Valley Conservancy
    • Livingston County
    • $348,025
    • Granted for the purchase of an easement on 375 acres of land adjacent to land that is currently deemed State Forest and Wildlife Management Area land. The project is intended to create a buffer between public and private lands, which would expand habitat and biodiversity protections.

“Forests are an irreplaceable resource to the people of New York that provide clean air and water, reduce the risks of flooding and extreme heat, protect habitat and boost our local economies,” said Meme Hanley, New York Senior Program Manager for the Land Trust Alliance. “Development and economic pressures make protecting forests a challenge that today’s announcement will help to address. The Land Trust Alliance and our more than 85 local land trust members appreciate Governor Kathy Hochul, the New York State Legislature, and the DEC’s support of this program that will increase the rate of forest conservation in our state to serve as a first line of defense against climate change.”