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If you were standing here only one hundred years ago the landscape would look much different. The only evidence of a rich, fertile forest would be the thousands of hedge row trees that surrounded the farm fields. When this area was settled in 1802 the forested hills of what is now the Sugar Hill State Forest were quickly turned to use for agricultural pursuits, leaving a naturally lush landscape completely barren of trees and other natural vegetation.
Under New York State Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, the State Reforestation Act of 1929 authorized the Conservation Department to begin the acquisition of land for the purpose of reforestation. After decades of deforestation as the result of human habitation this new law ensured that the state land acquired would be dedicated to the “reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber, and for recreation and kindred purposes.”
In 1933 the first 2,050 acres of land that would make up the new Sugar Hill State Forest were purchased. At the same time the United States was four years into the Great Depression and in desperate need of job creation. Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) was established to create jobs for young, unmarried men between 18 and 23, which was eventually expanded to include young men between 17 and 28 while simultaneously conserving and developing the country’s natural resources.
By 1935 the CCC had built camp S-123 on Pine Creek Road (aka CR 22), along with planting millions of tree seedlings in reforestation projects, the CCC also built the Sugar Hill State Forest Fire Tower in 1941. The Fire Tower stands at 75 feet tall and was the main resource for scouting forest fires until the mid-1980s when aerial detection became more efficient and economical. The Fire Tower was added to the National Historic Lookout Register in 1991, recognizing its importance in conserving our state and national forests.
Sugar Hill State Forest Fire Tower
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