Challenges and Opportunities for Conservation
The land we strive to protect is not just acreage without character—indeed, it’s those special places where we connect with the natural world that astounds us, where we coexist in harmony with nature and wildlife, where our country formed its identity and from where we reap the bounty of all that’s been given to us.
Your support and the assistance of many partners this year enabled us to complete 28 land transactions involving more than 11,000 acres across New York State, and to make loans and grants totaling more than $7 million to protect almost 5,000 acres in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Georgia. These lands include recreational treasures, wildlife habitat, cultural centers and productive working farms and forests. Please consider making your tax deductible year-end gift for conservation online today.
Expanding Parks for Recreation
OSI assisted the Lake George Land Conservancy in January with the acquisition of 1,423 acres in the Lake George basin in the southern Adirondacks. The Berry Pond tract, as it’s known locally, includes the headwaters of the West Brook and abuts conserved lands, including the monumental Finch, Pruyn land that The Nature Conservancy previously acquired with a loan from OSI.
In February, OSI announced the permanent protection of the majority of the Tahawus tract in the central Adirondacks when the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) purchased 6,813 acres at the gateway to the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The DEC conveyance added key areas to the Adirondack Forest Preserve, ensuring permanent public access to this forever wild landscape.environmental and cultural programs.
OSI and the Woodstock Land Conservancy teamed up this summer to help facilitate the state’s acquisition of three separate Catskill properties: the 196-acre Woodstock Guild of Artist and Craftsmen parcel, the 84-acre Berg parcel, and the 28-acre Illjes parcel—all of which will become additions to the state’s 590-acre Overlook Mountain Wild Forest, where thousands of people come each year to hike, camp, hunt and trap.
Adding to a trail system already known as one of the best in the region, OSI acquired 20 acres of prime recreation land at the southeastern gateway to the 300,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve. Strongly supported by the local community, the property buffers the Bluestone Wild Forest, a section of the Catskills with terrain suited for more intensive recreation like mountain biking, hunting and hiking.
OSI’s skillful negotiations with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY-New Paltz and a beloved 40-year-old cultural institution resulted in the protection of the 374-acre Ashokan Field Campus in Ulster County. Conserving the property ensures that the tributaries of the Ashokan Reservoir will remain clean, providing safe drinking water for New York City’s 8.2 million residents. In addition, the Ashokan Foundation will continue to offer a variety of year-round cultural and environmental programs for all ages.
OSI’s longstanding Shawangunk Ridge protection efforts continued this year as well. Nearly 300 acres were protected in the land known as a mecca for hiking and rock climbing, as we work toward our goal of protecting the entire 50-mile Shawangunk corridor from Kingston to Port Jervis, NY.
Saving Wildlife Habitat
A primary focus of OSI’s work has been to help partner organizations implement State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs)—blueprints that each state has created for habitat protection and conservation. With SWAPs in mind, we expanded our conservation program in the Southern Appalachians to include the rich bioregions of Georgia, where we made one loan and three grants. OSI expertise helped create a stewardship endowment allowing the Georgia Land Trust to actualize habitat protection on the ground, with the connectivity between protected lands creating corridors of wildlife habitat.
We made a loan to the Georgia Land Trust in July for the purchase of Camp Lookout, an 82-acre parcel on top of Lookout Mountain in Walker County, Georgia that will buffer the Lula Lake Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail. Camp Lookout’s lands protect the Rock Creek and Bear Creek watersheds, and were a high priority under the Georgia SWAP.
Also in Walker County, we assisted a host of partner agencies in two additional SWAP transactions to preserve the 1,839-acre McLemore Cove property and the adjacent 740-acre Camp Adahi parcel. Together, the properties fill in the gaps to connect the nearby Zahnd State Natural Area and the Crockford Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area—creating a contiguous, 20,000-acre-plus swath of conserved land.
Keeping Farmers on Their Farms
OSI In addition to OSI’s significant conservation investments in the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, we continued the Two Valleys campaign in 2008, extending farmland protection to the Rondout and Wallkill valleys on either side of the Ridge, thereby creating landscape-level conservation.
We protected the 361-acre Davis Arrowhead Farm in Ulster County in June, and secured conservation easements on the Osterhoudt and Misner farms in Ulster County in 2008 as well. Each effort encourages farming in the region—keeping alive its traditional character and providing locally grown, healthy food to consumers in the New York City metropolitan area.
In western Massachusetts, we made a loan to The Trustees of Reservations in partnership with The Kestrel Trust. The two organizations were part of a complex, eight-agency acquisition that saw 100 acres across six different parcels conserved. Among the properties was a 33-acre tract in North Hadley that had long been viewed as a key acquisition in the land trusts’ plan to assemble high quality agricultural lands along the Connecticut River.
In April, OSI awarded a $680,000 loan to the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center to protect 110 acres in southern New Jersey. The loan supports the Center’s purchase of a 46-acre farm adjacent to its existing property, while limiting development on its overall expanded site.
OSI helped Monmouth Conservation Foundation purchase the development rights to Holly Crest Farm, a 39-acre horse farm, in Middletown, NJ, preserving open space in one of the most densely populated parts of Monmouth County.
OSI also provided the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, Inc. (UWR) with a loan in August to assist in the preservation of the D’Alessandro Farm, located in Franklin Township. The property is comprised of 30 acres of agricultural fields and is part of a mixed hardwood and Atlantic white cedar forest—rare throughout the Northeast—and habitat for a number of threatened and endangered species.
Research and Best Practices
Ten years of conservation in the Northern Forest and the Adirondacks has informed our Research Program, which this year produced two publications for the conservation community.
Forestland For Sale examines changing ownership patterns and presents challenges and opportunities for conservation in the Mahoosucs in the coming decade, acting also as a springboard as OSI launches a larger study on forestland throughout the East Coast.
Conservation Easements and Biodiversity in the Northern Forest considers the role of working forest easements in the Northern Forest.
The winter 2007 edition of the Maine Policy Review also included several articles authored by OSI staff and was inspired by our analysis of the Plum Creek development proposal.
As 2008 concluded, OSI—for its 22 years of work along the magnificent Shawangunk Mountain Ridge in New York State—was honored to be featured among 40 of the greatest conservation stories ever told in Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition.
The book, featuring tales from California’s Muir Woods to Tierra del Fuego, is a fitting reminder not only of our duty to conserve land but of the spirit of giving that enables such work. In the words of Tom Brokaw, in the foreword of Wildlands Philanthropy, land should be protected as “a piece of rare art … something not just to be collected, but to be conserved and shared in its original, undiminished state.”
Thank you for your support, and for allowing us to share the land and the stories it tells. As the year draws to a close, we hope you will take the time to make a contribution to OSI. We depend on your support to protect the landscapes you love, and we can’t do it without your help.