It is a resource for livelihood, a place to play, a source of inspiration and renewal; it is home for myriad species; it is part of the solution for a planet facing the unknowns of climate change. The efforts of the Open Space Institute prove that the land, when treated well, can work for people, for local economies, and for the biodiversity that is the underpinning of all life.
As 2007 comes to a close, we wanted to share with you some of the success stories from this busy year, and we hope you’ll take a moment to support our work so that we can increase our conservation endeavors in 2008.
In New York State, OSI completed 24 transactions involving 7,570 acres of land in addition to an astounding 167,000 acres across the East Coast that we helped protect through loans provided by our Conservation Finance Program. Here are some OSI highlights:
Recreation: Parks For people
In an epic conservation deal, OSI provided financing to The Nature Conservancy purchase 161,000 acres of land in the Adirondacks at a critical point when the Finch, Pruyn & Co. timberlands went on the market.
A recreational wonderland, the parcels are replete with forested mountains, roaring rivers and waterfalls, sheer cliffs and biologically rich habitat. After reading a New York Times article about the monumental transaction, one OSI friend wrote:
“I was sure of one thing and that was that OSI would have a significant role in the acquisition, since I have come to depend on OSI to be a true leader in acquiring and preserving open space. Sure enough, I was not disappointed in this regard, even though I had to get to the end of the article to see OSI's name. Thanks so much for giving me something to feel good about. I know that you are working day in, day out to preserve more of our vital landscapes.”
OSI expanded both the recreational opportunities in the area and the economy of working forests through an unrelated land swap with Finch, Pruyn & Co. The swap will add more than 2,000 acres to the State Forest Preserve in the heart of the Adirondacks, including a parcel that lies on the flank of Santanoni Mountain, one of the 46 High Peaks with elevations greater than 4,000 feet. OSI intends to convey the land to the New York Department of Conservation so it can be added to the Forest Preserve.
OSI’s Conservation Finance Program provided a loan to the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to help permanently protect a key 256-acre tract along the Shawangunk Ridge near Port Jervis, New York that serves as an anchor for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail before it passes into New Jersey and connects with the Appalachian Trail.
Another loan protected the 3,688-acre Grafton Notch property in the Northern Forest's Mahoosuc Mountains of Maine. Grafton Notch is a deep glaciated valley that contains thick forests, cascading waterfalls, steep cliffs and the eastern slopes of Old Speck Mountain, one of Maine's tallest peaks. Known for some of the best hiking and recreation in New England, the parcel includes four miles of the Grafton Loop Trail. In September, the land was added to the State of Maine's 27,253-acre Mahoosuc Public Lands Unit.
OSI purchased historic Arden House and 450 acres atop a picturesque ridge in the Town of Woodbury, in Orange County, New York. Arden House was built in 1909 by E.H. Harriman at the highest point on Mount Orama, with commanding views in all directions of the Hudson Highlands, an area where OSI has conserved 25,000 acres. The property is located adjacent to Palisades Interstate Park Commission lands and Harriman State Park.
Adding to a long tradition of augmenting public recreation lands, the Open Space Institute transferred the 3,800-acre Sam’s Point to the State of New York, increasing the size of Minnewaska State Park Preserve by nearly 25%. Located in the Town of Wawarsing in Ulster County, Minnewaska is now 20,293 acres in size, New York State’s largest park preserve and third largest state park.
OSI also created a new riverfront park on the Hudson River in Cold Spring by gifting Dockside Park to the state. This little gem is less than a two-hour drive from the city, or a short walk from the Metro North train station in Cold Spring.
Farther south, an OSI loan to the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance helped acquire 150 acres within the borough of Frenchtown, New Jersey, preserving the last large undeveloped tract in this small community. The Frenchtown Greenbelt Preserve property was zoned for high density housing; it is estimated that over 100 residences could have been constructed on the site.
If you enjoy public lands for hikes, picnics, or their untouched beauty, consider supporting OSI with a year-end donation.
At OSI we are committed to helping farm families stay on their lands, supporting agricultural economies, and safeguarding local sources of fresh food.
In the spring, we completed the Two Farms Campaign in partnership with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, successfully saving the last two working farms in the historic Village of New Paltz, encompassing 180 acres of land along the Wallkill River.
In the fall, we acquired agricultural easements on three more working farms in the Rondout Valley, near Kingston, bringing the total number of protected farms in this part of the Hudson Valley to fourteen. We are actively working to protect an additional 3,200 acres of farmland in this region.
Ensuring that the rural bounty reaches the city, OSI purchased a conservation easement on the 51-acre Hodgson Farm in Orange County, which has been supplying New York City’s Greenmarket for thirty years.
In the Catskills, the Open Space Institute purchased Deerfield Farm, a 388-acre dairy farm in Delaware County, protecting the land from potential development, enhancing watershed protection, and supporting working farms while preserving the agricultural community and open spaces of this threatened region.
And in western Massachusetts, a loan to the Sheffield Land Trust helped the Egerton family secure a conservation easement on their farm, sparing the grown siblings from having to sell their beloved farm after their parents passed away.
If you enjoy locally grown produce and bucolic landscape on working farms, please support our work.
Just as we need farms to provide food for our bodies, wildlife is dependent upon dwindling habitat to survive. Identifying critical lands through State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) has been a major step toward stemming wildlife habitat loss but unless conservation groups have the funding to act upon the information, these wildlife plans may remain just that--plans on paper.
OSI has teamed up with the Lyndhurst Foundation to protect SWAP lands in the Southern Appalachians. Bridge financing from OSI protected a tract of pristine wildlife habitat in the ecologically diverse Highlands of Roan in North Carolina, near the border of Tennessee, adding 434 acres rich in wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities to a network of protected lands along the Appalachian Trail.
OSI financing also helped conserve 5,000 forested acres in New Hampshire that will provide critical habitat for wildlife and migratory birds in the White Mountains. A loan to the Trust for Public Land protected land that connects the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to the Errol Town Forest, creating a connectivity zone that is crucial for many species.
Conservation Institute Looks at the Big Picture
Our land conservation accomplishments have been enhanced by OSI’s ongoing research and analysis work. In 2007, this has included: a three-part report examining the economic impacts of Plum Creek’s proposed 426,000-acre development in the Moosehead Lakes region of Maine, including providing testimony to help inform the zoning decision; an extensive mapping and data analysis of land use patterns and threats in the Catskill Mountains; and a report on the effects of working forest easements on biodiversity that will come out in 2008.
We hope that as 2007 draws to a close, you will take a moment to make a contribution to the Open Space Institute. In this time of thanks, take stock of the land OSI has protected and the work yet to be done, think about what this land means to you and your children, and give as generously as you can.