Land Trust announces 2,000-acre easement

No public access allowed; Ponds, heritage brook trout protected

The Adirondack Land Trust recently completed the sale of more than 2,000 acres that will help protect a heritage strain of brook trout, along with lands next to a state wilderness area. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

The Adirondack Land Trust announced Monday that it had established a conservation easement next to a state wilderness area that will protect several ponds as well as a genetically unique strain of brook trout.

The Little Charley Pond tract is 2,122 acres west of Little Tupper Lake and southeast of Lows Lake. It’s next to the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area and the Robinwood East Easement. The Adirondack Land Trust sealed the easement deal with a private landowner that has put the land under protection.

The Charley Pond Preserve, which bought the land, is not new and owns adjacent land. The land trust did not say who is behind the group. The sale price was $1.9 million. (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the buyer and incorrectly said it is a newly formed group. The earlier version also did not have the sale price.)

The land trust had purchased the property in 2007, and has been looking for a private buyer since. But the sale comes with restrictions.

“After scientists identified an unexploited and genetically unique population of brook trout in Little Charley Pond, the land trust sought a conservation-minded private buyer who could protect the fish community,” the ALT wrote in a press release announcing the sale. “Under public ownership, the population would become vulnerable to introduction of competing species and fishing pressure.

“The conservation easement does not allow public access. The easement also restricts subdivision, allows one additional camp and allows logging under Forest Stewardship Council guidelines.

“The tract is contained within a 453,000-acre area of mostly road-less public and private forests where stability of ownership and land use has resulted in one of the largest intact blocks of forest remaining in the Eastern United States.”

There is currently one old, uninsulated camp on the property, according to ALT spokeswoman Mary Thill. She added that ALT and the new landowner plan to work together to monitor the trout population.

“The most critical thing for the land trust to do is to monitor a natural rock barrier to ensure that it continues to prevent bass from getting into the system,” Thill wrote. “And we will work with the landowner to do so.”

In addition to Little Charley Pond, the property also contains Snell and Bear ponds, 5 miles of undeveloped shoreline and several miles of streams. The Little Charley Pond strain of brook trout was found to be one of 10 unique populations in the state, according to a genetic study conducted by the New York State Museum. Other strains include nearby Little Tupper Lake, as well as Boreas Watershed, Sagamore and Dix-Elk Watershed strains.

“As environmental degradation continues to alter brook trout habitat across the landscape, the consequences for wild brook trout populations in New York State are of immediate concern, especially given projected changes in climate throughout the region,” Spencer Bruce, author of the genetic study, wrote in 2017. “New York’s native Brook Trout populations represent the last vestiges of New York’s ichthyological heritage; therefore, identifying and protecting these populations should be a priority.

“The Boreas watershed and Little Charley Pond populations are genetically unique compared to both New York hatchery stocks and other New York heritage strains … Leading us to hypothesize that both the L. Charley Pond population and the Boreas population are native fish of critical conservation priority.”