Thanks to the vision of two town supervisors and their boards, the Lake George Land Conservancy’s experience with collaborative land projects, and a cooperative and conservation-minded landowner, over 300 acres of forested land on the French Mountain Range are now forever protected.
Bolton Landing, NY – On October 18, the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) closed on the purchase of 317 acres on French Mountain, which lies within the Towns of Lake George and Queensbury, for $525,000. The LGLC will sell the property subject to a conservation easement to the Towns of Lake George and Queensbury; these transactions are expected to take place within the following months. The conservation easement will not only ensure that the land is protected, but also create a permanent relationship between the towns and the LGLC.
The protection of the land offers direct water quality protection. More than 2,000 feet of seasonal streams flow down the steep slopes of the property and join with East Brook far below. Zoning of the property would have allowed for the development of up to 15 new houses, potentially visible from I-87, Million Dollar Beach, resorts along Lake Shore Drive, and many other locations on the lake. In addition, these houses would have contributed to the runoff that flows into East Brook, and then into the south basin of the lake. Although the LGLC is not anti-development, the benefits to the watershed from protecting this particular land and retaining its natural state outweigh the possible value from development.
The property also offers another positive benefit: recreation. The towns plan to create a multi-use trail system on the property, which the LGLC will help to maintain. Because of its historical use for logging, the property has skidder trails throughout that could be used for hikers and mountain bikers. Although the trails would have a steep incline, the view from the lookout area will prove to be worth the effort. From the lookout area, those who have made the climb will be able to sit under the shade of the forest and catch their breath, taking in the expansive views of the lake, the village below, and the surrounding Adirondacks.
The property also provides a great link to the neighboring East Brook Preserve, which the McPhillips family sold to the LGLC earlier this year through a generous bargain sale. The Preserve contains wetlands and over 500 feet of the main branch of East Brook. The LGLC plans to develop a trail system and install educational signage at the property to explain how important land protection is to ensuring clean water in Lake George for generations to come.
The French Mt. project became the LGLC’s second great demonstration of how a land trust can successfully partner with municipalities for land conservation, and the shared goal of protecting Lake George. Similar to the LGLC’s partnership with the Town of Bolton to protect The Pinnacle in 2015, the LGLC brokered a cooperative agreement that benefits the lake as well as our partners’ communities.
LGLC Executive Director Jamie Brown said, “This project could not have happened without everyone involved being fully committed and dedicated to its success. We are grateful to the Towns of Lake George and Queensbury and to the McPhillips family, and look forward to other partnerships like this that will protect the land that protects the lake and create wonderful community resources.”
Queensbury Supervisor John Strough said, “The creation of a 317-acre jointly-owned French Mountain Park, is huge. This effort initiated by Lake George Town Supervisor Dickinson and LGLC’s Jamie Brown is going to be a boon for both Lake George’s water quality and our area’s recreational offerings. A beautiful property with beautiful views—flora, fauna, visitors and locals will love it.”
Bernice McPhillips, whose family owned the French Mountain property for over 90 years, expressed support for the land to be used as a recreational resource for the community. “The partnership with the Towns of Lake George and Queensbury and the hiking and biking trail system will have a very positive impact for the economy year round,” she said. “The beautiful view from the top is from the village straight up the lake and will most definitely be appreciated by the hikers and bikers using the trail system.”