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Follensby Pond and surrounding lands are high on the wish list of environmentalists. Photo: Jon Rosenthal
Follensby Pond and surrounding lands are high on the wish list of environmentalists. Photo: Jon Rosenthal

NYS misses out on $2.5 million grant for Follensby Pond

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The Adirondack Park's largest environmental group is blasting state officials for losing a $2.5 million Federal grant. The money would have helped to purchase Follensby Pond, a 14,000 acre tract of wild timberland near Tupper Lake.

Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan says the state failed to come up with matching funds for the project. "It's not so big a surprise. It is a disappointment and it's one we hope the state can recover from in the near future," Sheehan said.

The Environmental Protection Fund is used by New York to buy land for open space protection. Some green groups say Governor Cuomo has spent too much of the money on other projects.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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Brian Mann interviews Mike Carr, head of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy during a trip to Follensby. Photo source: John Rosenthal
Brian Mann interviews Mike Carr, head of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy during a trip to Follensby. Photo source: John Rosenthal
But Mike Carr, head of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, says the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was right to give up the federal grant.

"I think the department did the right think, frankly, in returning the money. It's a timing issue really for the department. I think they stepped up and returned the money and can re-apply when they're ready," Carr added.

Carr, whose group is brokering the Follensby conservation project, says the state is focused currently on acquiring the former Finch Pruyn lands — an effort that's expected to take five years.

In a letter, made public by the Council, state officials said that they gave up the federal grant because "other priorities" were diverting New York's open space dollars.

The Conservation Department also warned that trying to hold onto the money at a time when progress on the Follensby purchase is stalled might discredit the state's efforts to apply for other Federal grants.

Meanwhile, Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun said he was unaware that the state had applied for funding to purchase the lands around Follensby Pond.

Maroun says he opposes another expansion to the forest preserve on the border of his community.

"We really don't need to purchase this land right now," Maroun said. "The state can't afford it, shouldn't be affording it."

Maroun says he will be lobbying Governor Cuomo to convince him not to add the Follensby Pond area to the forest preserve.  

The pristine lake is prized by environmentalists in part because the naturalist Ralph Waldo Emerson once camped on its shore.

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