A Hudson Valley landowner says she cut down a forest on her land because she wanted another one to grow in its place.
That doesn’t make sense to a local conservation group, especially given that the owner, Anne Hohenstein, reaped $68,000 for the lumber, the Albany Times Union reported.
Especially galling for the group, Scenic Hudson, is that it had paid Hohenstein and her family $258,850 more than a decade ago to preserve the land. It is suing her, alleging that the arborcide violated that conservation easement.
The legal fight between Scenic Hudson and the New Baltimore farm owner dates to May 2019, the newspaper reported. Trial was scheduled to begin this month, but Scenic Hudson has asked the court to deliver a summary judgment in its favor sooner.
Despite the easement, which covers 59 acres of the former family fruit farm, Hohenstein brought in a forestry company to cut down hundreds of trees. According to the Times Union, she said she did so for ecological reasons, claiming the harvest would help the forest regrow.
Scenic Hudson calls it a commercial logging venture that violated their deal and has led to erosion and invasive species on the land.
The group discovered the logging in April 2019 when a land manager noticed a stack of timber by the side of the road while visiting a neighboring property. It sent Hohenstsein a cease and desist, then sued the following month.
“It’s very rare that things end up in the courts,” Seth McKee, executive director of Scenic Hudson, told the Times Union. “Once we discovered the harvest, we had to intervene.”
The environmental group owns about 130 easements in the region, according to the publication. It was established in 1963 to oppose an industrial project that would affect Storm King Mountain.
On its website, Scenic Hudson calls itself “a leader in safeguarding the Hudson Valley’s irreplaceable landscapes,” championing sustainable development and the protection of the environment from pollutants and other threats.
[Times Union] — Holden Walter-Warner