Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary
Essex County, New York
Forever-Wild Easement; Completed Project
In December 2003, the Northeast Wilderness Trust accepted a conservation easement on a 55-acre property known as Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary, a forested parcel located in the Champlain Eco-zone. Hemlock Rock is located in close proximity to several other protected natural areas, including The Nature Conservancy’s Coon Mountain Preserve, and contains ponds, streams, wetlands, fens, and forested swamps. Its protection advances efforts to link forested land in the Champlain Valley and expand existing conservation areas.
The property is dominated by hemlock forest and contains rocky outcrops. In the past, the region was completely dominated by hemlock forests. While the Champlain Valley’s biological make-up has changed due to extensive human development, the Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary is a stunning example of a forest typical of the region’s presettlement landscape.
Hemlock Rock provides habitat for a myriad of native species such as otter, mink, fisher, beaver, bear, migratory songbirds, reptiles, and amphibians. A globally rare species, the dragon’s mouth orchid, also occurs here. Ecologist Marc Lapin notes, “the conservation of forests, like those on Hemlock Rock, that are allowed to function per a natural dynamics regime is rare in the Champlain Valley. Providing spaces for the expression of variations in natural communities has and will continue to be a challenge in the Champlain Valley.” The protection of the Hemlock Rock Wildlife Sanctuary as forever-wild is one important step toward a broad habitat linkage of protected lands in the western Champlain Valley.
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