Featured News | New York | Science | Split Rock Wildway

Protecting the Wildway

Just one of many CATS trails for passive recreation that exist in the Split Rock Wildway.

By: Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director
December 20, 2017

There is a place on the western shore of Lake Champlain where forest still dominates the landscape and bobcats, bear, and mink can still wander from the lake to the high peaks through canopied cover and forested river corridors.

Stemming from the Split Rock Wild Forest, the largest expanse of protected and undeveloped Lake Champlain shoreline in New York, the Split Rock Wildway follows waterways and forests through rich farmland, under an Interstate Highway, and beside scattered development.  The Wildway links two critical ecosystems – the sandy lowlands of the Champlain Valley and the abruptly towering High Peaks to the west — to provide a pathway for both wildlife and people.

The vision to fully protect the Wildway involves securing a 15-mile corridor and within that distance, the permanent protection of approximately 15,000 acres.  Today, 7,000 acres have been secured by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and our friends at the Eddy Foundation, Open Space Institute, Adirondack Land Trust, Champlain Area Trails (CATS) and others.

Acre-by-acre and property-by-property, this number continues to grow.  Most recently, in 2016, the Trust added the 27-acre Goff Preserve to a growing list of forever-wild properties within the corridor.  These forever-wild parcels anchor and compliment the surrounding managed forests and farms that also make up the Wildway.  Forever-wild lands also guarantee that local wildlife will forever have room to roam in a landscape free of human disturbances such as logging.  These lands also ensure that the forests will continue to mature and one day, will join the ranks of our region’s rewilding old growth forests.

The Goff Preserve is a small but critical piece in the heart of the Wildway and represents the 8th project the Trust has permanently protected as wilderness.  The small addition packs a big ecological punch.  The Preserve contains a pocket ravine, numerous seeps, and a tributary to of the North Branch of Boquet River; habitat diversity that will be essential to the climate resiliency of the area.  On a recent visit, Trust staff saw a coyote on the Preserve as well as tracks in the fresh snow from numerous local denizens.

Do you want to learn more about this critical wildlife corridor and support Northeast Wilderness Trust?  Longtime Wildway advocate and author John Davis just released a new book Split Rock Wildway: Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor.  A portion of the proceeds will support Northeast Wilderness Trust’s efforts to conserve more lands in the Split Rock Wildway.

NWT conserved lands shown in orange and partner conserved lands in beige. The arrow represents the 15-mile corridor known as the Split Rock Wildway from Lake Champlain to the High Peaks in the Adirondacks.

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