Does New Large Private Landownership and Their Management Priorities Influence Public Access in the Northern Forest?
The Northern Forest spans New York and three New England states and contains over 26 million ac, making it the largest contiguous forest east of the Mississippi. Most of the forestland is privately owned and public access to private land is a time-honored tradition in the region. Residents fear this tradition of open access may be threatened by recent acceleration in land tenure change across the region. We surveyed those who own 1,000 ac or more in the four-state region and found that newer owners were not more likely to post their land. There was, however, a correlation between the owner's land-management priorities and recreational activities permitted on the parcel. Results indicated that timber/forest product companies and Real Estate Investment Trusts allowed more public access for traditional wildlife activities such as hunting and fishing, as well as trail-riding activities such as snowmobiling and all-terrain vehicle riding, than landowners managing for recreation or for nature conservation. Results also indicated that new landowners in the Northern Forest currently maintain the tradition of free public access to their lands.
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