State forests are managed for multiple-use objectives, including watershed protection, wildlife habitat, recreation and timber production. It should be noted that these lands are distinct from the forest preserve which is located within the Adirondack and Catskill State Parks. Washington County has both types of state lands with five state forests and the Carters Pond Wildlife Management Area to the south and large blocks of forest preserve in the northern towns of Fort Ann, Dresden and Putnam. There are also additional DEC lands near Whitehall that are outside the Adirondack Park. All of these are covered by Unit Management Plans with one being recently completed for the five state forests and Carters Pond.Several meetings were held at the Cambridge High School to gather public input. For maps and more information on the UMP try contacting Senior Forester Ben Thomas at the Warrensburg DEC office (518-623-1200).
But in my reading I've come across curiosities that begged for further investigation. Time to get back out there and poke around (however slowly). That's what I've been doing lately and I wanted to fill you in on what I've found.
From the parking pull-off on Eagleville Road a fisherman's path leads upstream. You can wander for a half-mile or so before coming to the Battenkill Lodge's private property. The bank here is lined with picturesque sycamores and cottonwoods. In summer it's lush with ferns and wildflowers. There are old river channels and traces of a dam associated with a large woolen mill which once dominated Eagleville. All that's left are a few foundations. Gifted photojournalist Grey Villet lived across the stream and the noted sportsman/writer Lee Wulff owned a swath of riverbank here. Now, a noted blogger pays taxes on a little chunk of it.
If this post's title sounds familiar, it's because I've just finished reading Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It. For the third (or is it the fourth?) time. It's set in 1930's era western Montana, but it makes me think of the Battenkill. In 1992 Robert Redford turned the story into a movie starring Brad Pitt. I haven't seen the film but it's only been out for about 25 years. What's the rush? I'm more of a reading type guy and Maclean's writing is to be savored. The novella's opening and closing lines are literary gems. It's the tale of two brothers, the complicated web of emotions within a family and what we can and cannot do for one another. Rivers and fly-fishing are almost like characters in the book. The Big Blackfoot and the Elkhorn are the stages where Norman and his brother Paul's drama unspools. This is literature of place at its best. Hope you get to read it soon.