Tucked away in the northern section of the Adirondack’s West Champlain Hills between Willsboro and Keeseville is a magnificent 273-acre lake known as Long Pond. It is surrounded by an intact, biologically rich forest that protects the lake and is the backdrop for homes on the Pond’s east side and Camp Poke-0-MacCready to the south.
A potential development in 2011 threatened the west shore of this beautiful and much-loved lake and inspired people to work with Champlain Area Trails to create a program called Long Pond Conservancy (LPC) that focuses on saving the lands around Long Pond. This will keep the water clean, preserve the amazing views, and connect people to nature in the Long Pond Watershed.
Starting ten years ago, CATS and its LPC program took on the challenging task of raising over $300,000 to cover the cost of purchasing and managing the threatened 48.5
acres. Buying this land would protect most of the lake’s western shore because the adjoining 167 acres of shoreline is already protected. With that as the goal, LPC and its committed supporters launched a multi-year fundraising effort and reached success in May 2020 when those private funds and combined grants from the Kelsey Trust and Cloudsplitter Foundation enabled CATS to buy and now own the property.
“This is a unique property,” said legendary ADK conservationist Peter Paine. “These West Champlain Hills represent one of the most diverse natural communities in the Adirondack Park. Protecting biological diversity and water quality are integral for people and nature. That’s why this land at Long Pond was worth saving now and for future generations.”
Like all CATS land conservation projects, this remarkable property will host a trail so that everyone can experience the wild and scenic beauty of Long Pond, forever.
CATS Makes Trails - As the last part added to the Adirondack Park, the Champlain Valley has little public land and until CATS began, few hiking trails. Every year, CATS works with private landowners to allow for trails on their properties. After finding the best route, CATS staff and volunteers make the trails. Some can be completed in days; others, like the Sophie’s Lair Trail in Willsboro, can take several years because of difficult or wet terrain and the need for bridges and boardwalks. In the end, people have wonderful places to enjoy throughout the year.
Champlain Area Trails makes the Champlain Valley a desirable destination to live and visit and inspires long term support of the overall economy in its communities. Our trails and nature preserves offer outdoor recreation opportunities which draw people to our region. They seek accommodations, discover great local eateries and ultimately support local businesses. And in some cases, CATS trails even inspire people to relocate here.
Early in 2020, as CATS was beginning to plan its annual Grand Hike, nobody expected that a global pandemic would force us to cancel this popular event and fundraiser. 2020 was the year of flexibility and creativity, so we decided to launch the first ever CATS Grand Challenge.
The Challenge encouraged people to get outside, connect with nature, and explore the Champlain Valley through hiking one of three designated CATS trails and earning a commemorative patch.
The three-month event inspired 210 people from throughout the Champlain Valley and beyond to take on the Challenge and show their support for CATS. We missed seeing everyone in person, but truly enjoyed the fun photos that they shared highlighting happy people, friends and families out in nature. This is exactly what CATS is all about. Thank you and stay tuned as we plan for future CATS challenges!