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1,000 Islands Region seeks scenic designation

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HAMMOND - Hammond is looking to put the Thousand Island Islands-St. Lawrence River Region on the map as top scenic area in the state.

Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram and a committee will work with multiple towns and villages inland and along the river to designate the region as a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance.

The designation, through the Department of the State’s Office of Communities and Waterfronts, offers protection to scenic landscapes through review of projects requiring state or federal action, including direct actions, permits, or funding.

“It wouldn’t be like the Adirondack Park Agency; there will be no regulations,” Mr. Bertram said. “However it will require the state to do some type of project to promote and protect the area.”

Mr. Bertram said he became interested in applying for the designation after several residents came forward suggesting the idea.

“The big reason to do this give us more name recognition and bring in tourism,” Mr. Bertram said. “It will allow us to advertise in another avenue and give us an opportunity to promote the area as a whole.”

Two other areas that have been selected for SASS include the Hudson Valley region and Long Island. The first application of the state’s scenic assessment program was in the Hudson River Valley coastal region in 1993. In 2010, nine areas totaling more than 25,000 acres on Long Island’s East End within the town and village of East Hampton received the SASS designation.

The areas in both the Hudson Valley and East End encompass “unique, highly scenic landscapes accessible to the public and recognized for their outstanding quality,” according to the Department of State website.

Mr. Bertram said he and his committee received $75,000 matching from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which will go toward the application for the designation. The grant will be split by 10 municipalities, to fund in kind research which will be included in the SASS application packet, Mr. Bertram said.

“Local committees will be compensated for their time to research and highlight certain areas of significance which contribute to the overall quality of the area, mostly near the water,” Mr. Bertram said. “For instance, we have another area islands in Chippewa Bay with turn-of-the-century homes. For those types of things, someone is going to have to do physical inventories, which will be quite a lengthy process. Whoever is chosen, will be billed for their time and other expenses such as boat rental and picture taking.”

Mr. Bertram said the town of Hammond will seek help with the application from the villages and towns of Morristown, the village of Alexandria Bay and town of Alexandria, the town and village of Clayton, the town and village of Cape Vincent, and the town of Orleans.

“Cape Vincent is on board, and Clayton has offered help,” Mr. Bertram said. “I will be submitting pledges to each of the municipalities and talking with them individually.”

He said he would get each municipality to pass a resolution to join an oversight committee to review sites to be included in the application.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bertram will request proposals for consultants who will put the application together through a contract with the Department of State.

“The goal, I think, is to gain name recognition, which will help in our efforts toward economic development,” he said. “While speaking with some people from Plattsburgh recently, they were not really aware of the where the 1000 Islands Region is. This will hopefully put us on the state website and help promote the area. And people will know they don’t have to go very far to visit a great place.”

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