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Agencies and organizations in three states cooperate in land preservation activity

A project that began with a "For Sale" sign at an abandoned ski area along Petersburgh Pass has, in ten years, turned into a multi-state effort to preserve the Taconic Ridge between New York, and Massachusetts and Vermont. At this time, some 10,000 acres and a major section of the long-distance Taconic Crest (foot) Trail has been preserved through conservation easements or purchase by state agencies.

Both New York and Massachusetts in 1993 recognized the Taconics, a nearly unbroken wilderness, as a significant biological, scenic and timber resource. The environmental agencies of each state, working with local conservation non-profits, have worked in partnership to identify critical parcels for protection and funding sources for the initiative. Groups such as the Taconic Hiking Club, the Trust for Public Land, the National Park Service, Williams College, Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation joined by the state agencies, have formed a citizens council to address issues of management and use (such as trail marking, maintenance and mapping) as more of the land comes under ownership of fewer entities.

This project is a prime example of how public and private partnerships can work to promote landscape scale protection across political boundaries. Preservation of the resources provided by the Taconics continues to be a primary goal of all agencies involved. This cooperative effort is being facilitated by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, a land trust that has been protecting the rural New England character of Williamstown since 1986. For more information, contact the WRLF at PO Box 221, Williamstown, MA 01267 (phone/fax: (413) 458-2494) (e-mail ruraland@wrlf.org).