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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 a 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 state Department of 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 suggested it to “give us more name recognition and bring in tourism.”

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 in the town and village of East Hampton received the SASS designation.

Those areas have “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 a $75,000 matching grant from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council that will go toward the application. The grant will be split by 10 municipalities to fund in-kind research that 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 island 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 from consultants to 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 where the Thousand 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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