Tug Hill Land Trust Concerned About Mad River Wind Facility

On the Mad River Flow looking NW.

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust has released a new “white paper” report with concerns about the wind energy facility proposed along the Mad River in southern Jefferson and northern Oswego counties. The white paper has been submitted to New York State’s Department of Public Service as part of its Article 10 (of the State’s Public Service Law) review of the proposed Mad River wind project.


Prepared by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, the Mad River project white paper highlights potential impacts of the large project, to be sited entirely in a forested area.  “When we first heard of the Mad River proposal last year, it seemed very different than other proposals located in mostly agricultural areas.  We were concerned this proposal could have potential serious, adverse impacts due to its location in Tug Hill’s core forest – the headwaters of streams and rivers vital to the region’s environment and economy, including the health of the Salmon River sport fishery and the viability of Fort Drum,” said Land Trust Executive Director Linda Garrett.

“The ESF white paper confirms that industrial scale wind energy developments in headwaters forest areas present the potential for significant adverse impacts,” added Garrett.

Potential siting issues

The Mad River project would site 88 wind turbines, each much larger than those familiar to local people at the Maple Ridge wind project near Lowville, on 20,000 acres of forest land in the towns of Worth and Redfield.  “The road upgrades needed to construct these massive towers across 20,000 acres of forest land pose the threat of damaging streams and wetlands that are part of the headwaters of the Salmon River.  They also would likely fragment the forest beyond that of existing roads used for logging and by hunt clubs, with possible implications for expanding invasive plant species,” said Bob Quinn, a Land Trust board member.

“When you see this forest from the air, as we did earlier this year, you can appreciate the amount of water that is there and wonder at the adverse impacts of turning it into an industrial energy facility,” said Bob Keller, Land Trust board chairman and volunteer pilot for the environmental organization Lighthawk.

Land Trust calls for proper siting

“We are not against wind power.  Tug Hill supplies plenty of it to the rest of New York State.  But we need to be careful in the siting of a wind energy facility that can threaten other values the people of Tug Hill and the North Country hold dear – clean water; exceptional fishing, hunting and recreational opportunities; and the viability of the largest driver of our economy, Fort Drum,” said Garrett.  The Mad River wind project has been identified as one of those that may adversely impact Fort Drum radar and weather radar operation.

Read the white paper prepared by SUNY ESF

Click this link to read the ESF white paper in its entirety.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the proposed Mad River wind project, please contact Executive Director Linda Garrett at 315-779-8240 or by emailing thtomorr@northnet.org 

A Family’s Land is Protected Forever in the Town of Greig

Independence River

It seems like it is always cold here in the North Country. The frosty nights of the fall, the blustery, bitter cold of winter and the chilly rains of spring make it challenging to stay warm.

And the snow? You know about the snow. Mounds of it. Sometimes never ending, or so it can seem.

Terry and George Cataldo
Terry and George Cataldo enjoying a moment together on their home along the Independence River.

But that never deterred George and Terry Cataldo. Married for 42 years, they’ve always been together helping out at their local church, attending a concert or community event, or volunteering at Constable Hall.

A little cold weather has never slowed them down. That’s partly because, like many here in Tug Hill, they’re hard workers and take pride in living in harmony with nature, managing their forest for wildlife and the water of the Independence River, as well as personal use.

“It wasn’t always easy, but we’ve found such beauty in this place,” explains Terry, continuing, “living in our house, the one we designed and had built with the trees God planted right here, on this land, is something we have treasured.”

Now in their 80’s, the Cataldo’s recently conserved their land in the Town of Greig, ensuring that the wildlife and woodlands along the river’s edge will provide future owners the same inspiration and haven that it did for them. Their 254 acres of land will continue to be an important part of Tug Hill’s rural character for many generations to come.

Terry pauses for a moment, and remarks, “Protecting this land was so important to us. We have been committed to protecting it for many years. It’s more than land, trees and the water, and even wildlife. It’s the very soul of who we are. We are so happy to have the peace of mind knowing it will not be developed, and future generations will be able to enjoy it like we have.”

Dave Evan’s, Terry’s son, smiles when he hears this and nods his head. “My mom and step-dad have cared for this land together for over 40 years. It is almost like a sacred trust that they were blessed to receive and share with others,” reflects Dave.

“Their love for each other, and their faith, is manifested in this land and the days and years they spent honoring their special piece of God’s creation.”


Local Land and Water Conservation Get a Boost

From L to R: Terry and George Cataldo, and Dr. Edward Russell

Families and landowners in the Tug Hill region, including the counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and Oswego, just received good news with the announcement that the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust was awarded funding to initiate a three-year full-time conservation position to assist in their efforts to conserve family lands.

The $100,000 grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (funded by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and administered by the Land Trust Alliance NY office) will be spread out over three years and requires a match by the land trust, which has received contributions and pledges of support from community members throughout the region. The land trust also has to continue to raise additional funds to support its work in other land protection projects, conservation partnerships and public outings and programs.

“As a community-supported local conservation organization, we greatly appreciate this catalyst funding,” explained Linda Garrett, Executive Director of the land trust, continuing, “we have families who want our assistance and now with this additional staff position, we’ll be able to help them figure out if conservation is right for them.”

All conservation work by the land trust is voluntary, with many families in the Fort Drum area working in partnership with the land trust, Ducks Unlimited and the Army through a national security initiative called the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB). Funding is available on a competitive basis, around the base to conserve wildlife and farms, and therefore reduce conflicting development that might interfere with the training at the base.

With interest growing in the region by landowners to conserve their land, the timing of the grant and subsequent staff position, is important.

In addition to land protection projects around Fort Drum, the new staff position will allow the land trust to work with other landowners throughout the entire Tug Hill region. “Conserving lands for our farm and forest economy, as well as helping to ensure clean water for drinking and recreation, is a priority for many of the communities in Tug Hill,” remarked Tug Hill Commission Executive Director Katie Malinowski, “this is really good news.”

Landowners are conserving their land for a variety of reasons. For many, they want to retain their family’s heritage, a legacy that can span several generations. For others, it’s important to them to ensure that wildlife will have a place to roam. And then there are those who feel it is critical to retain the Tug Hill farms, woodlands, and waterways for the local economy and way of life.

Those who conserve their land may qualify for an annual New York State property tax credit up to $5,000. Landowners may also qualify for federal and state income tax deductions, which is clarified on the land trust’s website.

“Our family conserved our farm because it is who we are, the farm is part of us,” explained Gary and Kristy Sullivan of Heifer Hotel in Copenhagen, “we are so appreciative that we were able to do this—and we know our grandkids will always be able to see the farm as a farm, regardless of who ends up owning it.”

Lands protected with these conservation agreements stay on the tax rolls. Landowners continue to manage the property pursuant to the agreement and their goals.

George Cataldo, who recently conserved his land at the age of 86 with his wife Terry in the town of Greig, did so after owning it for more than half his life. He built his house out of wood from the land and cut firewood there. Terry’s son, Dave Evans, relayed that his folks wanted to conserve their land for years.  “We are thankful that others will be able to do what our family did, now that the land trust will have more staff to help more people like us. It’s given my parents peace of mind to know the land they love will remain intact for generations to come.”