The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) achieves its mission of protecting the land that protects the lake not only through property acquisition, but also by developing appropriate strategies for final ownership. Recently, the organization made a decision related to the final ownership of one of our most iconic properties that is a real win for conservation in the Lake George watershed.
Anthony’s Nose is a 189-acre property that stands majestically above Blair’s Bay. The property includes Record Hill and is home to majestic peregrine falcons and an unusual natural community: the red cedar rocky summit. As a land trust, the LGLC is committed to protecting special places such as Anthony’s Nose within the Lake George watershed for future generations. In some cases, the LGLC will purchase land and transfer the protected land to the State or municipal partners; in other cases we will retain ownership of the property. The ultimate decision as to the ownership of the protected land depends on the circumstances that surround each project.
In 2000, the LGLC and its generous partners and donors stepped up and protected Anthony’s Nose. At the time of the purchase, the Lake George real estate market was booming and the property was under threat of being lost forever to development. The LGLC purchased the property for $1.15M, with the intention of immediately selling the land to New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for that same amount. The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy (TNC) assisted in this transaction and helped with the details of the transaction. The LGLC had two appraisals prepared by licensed appraisers for this transaction. One appraisal indicated that the fair market value of the property was $1.15M, the other indicated a value of $1.3M. The landowner agreed to sell the property for $1.15M, and the LGLC believed that the property would then be sold immediately to the DEC for this same amount. These sorts of transactions were common at the time. For example, in 1999 TNC purchased the adjacent Flat Rock property from the Fort Ticonderoga Association for $1M and subsequently transferred the land to DEC for $1.2M.
However, the immediate transfer of the property to DEC did not occur as planned. The former landowner of the property filed a lawsuit against the LGLC disputing the boundary of the property shortly after the closing. Although the LGLC unquestionably prevailed in the courts, the case dragged on for ten years, significantly delaying the sale of the property to the DEC. By the time the lawsuit was resolved, DEC’s acquisition priorities had changed and no offer was made for the land. With positive input from DEC, the LGLC purchased two additional properties to improve pedestrian access to both the Anthony’s Nose parcel (Access Parcel in 2014) and DEC’s Flat Rock parcel (Dodge Parcel in 2015).
In 2015, the State indicated that it was ready to acquire the Anthony’s Nose property and two additional access parcels. Both the DEC and the LGLC conducted new appraisals. The LGLC’s 2015 appraisal indicated that the fair market value of the three properties was $1.3M; the State did not share its current appraisal with the LGLC.
As you may have read in the March edition of the Lake George Mirror or online in the Adirondack Almanack, in January of 2018 the DEC made an offer for the Anthony’s Nose parcels of $325,000, a fraction of the amount that the LGLC paid for these properties and the value indicated in the LGLC’s 2015 appraisal. As a result, an overwhelming majority of the LGLC Board voted to reject the State’s offer at its February meeting.
The LGLC is committed to protecting the land under our care in a manner that is fiscally responsible. Although we are still open to working with DEC on a transaction that works for everyone with Anthony’s Nose, we are also willing to permanently retain ownership of this iconic property and realize the amazing value that can be gained from the land over time through trails, community outreach, and the benefits that the land provides for the lake. Anthony’s Nose is the southern anchor of the LGLC’s efforts to protect the ridgeline of South Mountain and the Bridge the Nose Initiative, including our potential partnership with Fort Ticonderoga to create historic recreational opportunities within that area. The land’s sensitive flora and fauna and habitat is a natural treasure that we can steward and use to educate a sustainable number of visitors as to the importance of the protection of this special place.
As a land trust, the LGLC has many tools that we may use to protect land. In addition to the strategy of acquiring land and then transferring the property to a partner, we are also able to own and steward land ourselves. By now, everyone knows that the LGLC owns Anthony’s Nose. As a land trust, “perpetuity” is what we do and owning and stewarding this amazing, iconic property is a wonderful legacy for our organization.