NEW LEBANON — Fifty-four acres in the town are being permanently protected with a conservation easement by Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC). The land is part of a “Neighborhood Conservation Block” of seven other privately-owned protected lands comprising over 1,000 acres.
The property was donated to CLC by Hiroshi Matsuzaki and Susan Goldberg, as part of CLC’s Tradeland Program, and is now being purchased from CLC by Doug Upton Jr. and Judy Upton, who live adjacent to the land. Working with the new landowners, CLC created a conservation easement that protects the most important natural characteristics of the property. With the easement, as with all of CLC’s easements, the landowners will be able to live on and enjoy their land. They can also practice sustainable forestry and other agriculture activities.
“My wife and I wanted to add more lands to our existing property,” Mr. Upton said in a press release from CLC announcing the deal. “This was a great opportunity to work with the Columbia Land Conservancy to accomplish our goals and preserve the astonishing natural beauty of this property forever.”
The property is rich in biodiversity and includes important wildlife habitat. It has vernal pools, areas that are covered by water for parts of the year and are critically important for amphibious species. There are also seasonal streams that eventually flow into the 495-acre Shaker Swamp, an area designated a Class 1 wetland system by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Class 1 is the agency’s highest level of protection.
The property is largely made up of contiguous forest lands and is part of the fifth largest unfragmented forest in New York State, an area known as the Rensselaer Plateau. Forests provide water quality protection, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. The release also says that protecting forests can provide health benefits, as trees sequester pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, protecting biodiversity decreases infectious diseases, including Lyme disease and West Nile.
The property is visible from several public roads and vantage points, including the Mount Lebanon National Historic Landmark and the hamlet of New Lebanon. There are wooded slopes that rise from 1,100 feet to 1,600 feet in elevation near the summit of West Hill.
Official objectives of New Lebanon’s Comprehensive Plan call for the town to “protect scenic vistas, open space and sensitive wildlife habitats.” The plan also calls for encouraging preservation of woodlands and promoting environmentally sensitive management and use of forest resources.
This conservation easement means that Columbia Land Conservancy now holds easements on 21,350 acres. More about the CLC Land Protection program is online at http://clctrust.org/land-protection/.
The Columbia Land Conservancy works with the community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, and rural character of Columbia County, strengthening connections between people and the land. CLC owns or manages 10 public conservation areas that are open year round from dawn to dusk, providing miles of trails for free, year-round outdoor recreation. As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, CLC has an expanded program schedule for the year that includes family programs, art activities, guest educators, contests, and self-guided activities. CLC also works to support and strengthen agriculture and thoughtful land use planning throughout the county.