Easement protects land near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

NEW YORK – The Open Space Institute has obtained a 1,356-acre conservation easement near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain from a private landowner.

The donated parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, and sits within the viewshed of the firetower on the summit of Poke-O-Moonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers.

In 2009, the Johanson family donated a conservation easement of about 1,400 acres of land in the Essex County town of Chesterfield. This donation protects adjacent lands also owned for decades by the family.

Both donations were made to the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate.

Eric Johanson began traveling to the Adirondacks with his parents in the late 1940s. He purchased a 175-acre tract in the area when he was 19 years old, then acquired other contiguous parcels over time to create a sanctuary he called Baldface Mountain Preserve. His ancestors came from Sweden and were landowners and farmers, so an appreciation for the land has been a longtime family tradition, he said.

“The Adirondack Park is an international treasure, and we are glad to play our small part to ensure that it is conserved for generations to come,” Johanson said in a press release.

The conservation easement permits the future subdivision and modest single-family residential or limited commercial (for a bed and breakfast) development of two lots, and will otherwise restrict development and subdivision. It will permit passive recreational use and sustainable forestry in accordance with a forest management plan approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Johanson family retains ownership of the land and may pass it on or even sell the land, although any future owners must adhere to the terms of the easement.

The Johanson property borders the western shore of Butternut Pond and is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the AuSable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.

“OSI is delighted to have developed such a strong working relationship with this conservation-minded family,” Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “This second easement donation demonstrates an admirable commitment to the protection of natural resources within the Adirondack Park. Protection of the Baldface Mountain Preserve will ensure the preservation of important Adirondack viewsheds and waterways, while simultaneously keeping these lands in the hands of private, working forest landowners.”