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Celebrating OSI's 40 years of conservation success

In 2014, the Open Space Institute’s conservation successes demonstrated our commitment to community, conservation connectivity, climate resilience and public access, marked by strategic projects along the east coast from the southern Appalachians into Canada.

OSI has set into motion the protection of more than 17,000 acres of land in 2014. We are on track to directly protect 6,300 acres in our home state of New York, and  in South Carolina and New Jersey. Through our grants program, OSI will finish the year assisting in the preservation of some 9,000 acres along the eastern seaboard.

As the Open Space Institute celebrates forty years of conservation, we are proud to have assisted in the protection 2.2 million acres of land, from Canada to Georgia. While this anniversary year draws to a close, please consider a year-end gift to OSI. Your support helps us direct complex and time-sensitive transactions that protect land directly and enables us to harness new science and forge diverse partnerships to preserve our open space resources.

Thank you again for your generous support.

New York and Beyond – Best Lands

After protecting more than 135,000 acres in our home state over the past four decades, this year the Open Space Institute completed our first-ever direct land acquisition outside of New York, near Charleston, South Carolina—and we plan to close our first acquisition in New Jersey of the Giralda property before year’s end.

In early November, the State of New York announced the largest Hudson Highlands conservation easement ever, on almost 4,000 acres at Black Rock Forest, in Cornwall, NY. When OSI completes the transaction, the new easement will allow hikers, outdoor enthusiasts and other park visitors an uninterrupted outdoor experience encompassing nearly 60 miles of trails and access to 8,600 acres of protected open space.

Throughout 2014, we continued our work of converting outdated or abandoned rail trails to unique and popular linear parks. As part of our long-term vision to help create a 180-mile long interconnected rail trail network in the Hudson Valley, OSI acquired a small parcel to enhance the Poughkeepsie entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson and obtained land to develop a rail trail network in the Catskills.

OSI also preserved four Essex, NY farms with the generosity of the Klipper Family Fund, including our third lease-to-own project with a local farmer. In Albany County, OSI and our partner, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, acquired 156 acres just outside the Village of Altamont as part of the new 214-acre Bozen Kill Preserve.

Finally, our Citizen Action Program provided fiscal sponsorship to 48 grassroots projects working in and around New York. We also said goodbye to several groups as they “graduated” and moved on—Abingdon Square Conservancy, Lewisboro Land Trust, Earth Matter NY, BioCities Inc., Corbin Hill Food Project and White Roof Project.

Smart Capital Conservation

Through our key land transactions and integration of climate resiliency science into planning and policy, OSI earned national recognition from the Obama Administration. We applaud President Obama's efforts and are honored that the Open Space Institute's Resilient Landscape Initiative was featured.

Launched last year with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative expects to conserve almost 10,000 acres of resilient habitat by the end of this year. One example is the Leyden Working Farms and Forest Conservation Partnership; an OSI  grant allowed these dozen partnering stakeholders to protect 900 acres of local farms, productive farmlands and wildlife habitat.

A complementary OSI Catalyst grant also enabled Mass Audubon to publish “Losing Ground.” The report identified and mapped unprotected resilient habitat in the Commonwealth, where the state has begun incorporating resilience when forming land protection priorities.

In addition, ten other research initiatives that integrate resilience science into conservation planning have been completed or are underway across six New England states.

OSI continued to expand southward this year, giving the Southern Cumberlands special attention from two of our funds. We selected the Southern Cumberland Plateau, an ecological “hot spot,” for the Southeast Resilient Landscapes capital regranting, in addition to providing a grant for the purchase of a 343-acre Pigeon Mountain tract in northwest Georgia through our Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund.

This year also saw another important new initiative with the launch of the Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, created with funding from the William Penn Foundation. OSI will award $9 million through the fund, which complements the work of the Bayshore-HighlandsFund, created in 2011 to accelerate strategic land conservation in the New Jersey Bayshore and the Pennsylvania Highlands.

This Is Your Land

Improving park access and enhancing the visitor experience is at the heart of OSI’s Alliance for New York State Parks program. For the third year in a row, OSI successfully advocated for increased public investment in New York’s state parks, which received a third $90 million installment in as many years. For context, before this $270 million influx, the annual capital budget for all 213 state parks and historic sites was a mere $17 million. 

OSI is leveraging these public investments to move forward with exciting, long-awaited projects: replacing the Canopus Lake visitor complex at Fahnestock State Park; building a new nature center at Letchworth State Park; upgrading the popular public theater at Riverbank State Park and creating a visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

On the subject of Minnewaska, we further deepened our connection to the area this year by transferring more than 1,000 acres at Sam’s Point to the preserve. We also completed our inaugural private fundraising campaign there, leading to the restoration of the historic Hamilton Point Carriage Road. In a relationship spanning more than two decades, OSI and our partners have more than doubled the size of the popular park to over 21,000 acres.

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