NY buys Tahawus Tract in Adirondacks for forest preserve
The state has purchased most of the historic Tahawus wilderness tract in the central Adirondacks from the nonprofit Open Space Institute and added it to New York’s Forest Preserve.
The Department of Environmental Conservation acquired 6,813 acres including Lake Henderson in the town of Newcomb for $5.096 million, according to the state the Department of Environmental Conservation. The institute, after buying 10,000 acres in 2003-2004 from a mining company, had already opened the area to the public for hiking, canoeing, fishing and camping. The 315-mile-long Hudson River starts at the Lake Henderson spillway and runs through the tract.
Another 2,900 acres that the institute sold separately is covered by a conservation easement that permits ongoing lumbering. The land purchase through the state Environmental Protection Fund closed Jan. 31 and the state plans to acquire the easement later this year, DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said Tuesday.
The OSI kept 1.5 acres around its cabin at Preston Ponds and about 210 acres in the historic area containing the former community of Adirondac, where its blast furnace and some buildings are being restored. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and his family stayed there as guests of the Tahawus Club _ surrounded by wilderness owned by the McIntyre Iron Works _ when President William McKinley was fatally shot in September 1901.
Club superintendent David Hunter drove Roosevelt in a horse-drawn wagon on a dark, slippery wilderness road for the first 10 miles of a trip that would end with the 26th president’s swearing in the following day in Buffalo.
“Till we figure out a better alternative we’re committed to owning it,” OSI President Joe Martens said of the former mining town. With a state arts council grant, a consultant will develop a master plan for visitor interpretation, he said.
The OSI also kept 46 acres around the Maston House, which it plans to let the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry use for ecological programs, Martens said. It also kept about one-third acre around the Mt. Adams fire tower and an observer’s cabin farther down the mountain.
The Tahawus Tract, about 90 miles northwest of Albany, was purchased for $8.5 million in 2003-2004 from NL Industries, which had operated a titanium mine and mill on the site from the 1940s to early 1980s. It was the 20th-century successor to McIntyre Iron Works. The tract was originally part of a 105,000-acre holding that included most of Mount Marcy.
Tests for soil and water contamination were conducted, but the mining _ for iron ore in the 1800s and titanium in the 1900s _ was largely mechanical, with crushing and sifting and few chemicals. OSI officials said they found little evidence of contamination except at a couple of old dump sites.
The mining company retained about 1,200 acres, and county highway departments still truck out waste gravel and rock from the pit mines. NL Industries removed the old industrial buildings, Martens said.