NEW YORK, NY — February 23, 2011 — For the second time in six months, the Open Space Institute has purchased land in Orange County that helps protect a slender “conservation corridor,” while also buffering nearby natural preserves.
OSI, through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, announced today the acquisition of two adjacent parcels in the town of Cornwall, both previously owned by the Merrill family, that total 32 acres and abut the southern boundary of the 3,800-acre Black Rock Forest.
The Merrill parcels protect the eastern end of a mile-and-a-half corridor that connects Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Forest State Park. OSI began targeting the corridor last year, as it provides roaming ground for wildlife traveling between Black Rock and Schunnemunk. In September 2010, OSI acquired 151 acres of farmland on the western end of the corridor.
The properties are ecologically contiguous with the Black Rock Forest, home to native flora and fauna such as bears, bobcats, coyotes and otters, chestnut-oak forests and pitch pines.
“These properties are both part of the Black Rock Forest ecosystem,” said Bill Schuster, executive director of the nonprofit Black Rock Forest Consortium, which promotes research, education and conservation in the Black Rock Forest, “and they contain sensitive streams and wetlands.
“Protecting these properties will preserve the water quality of Woodbury Creek as well as habitat in this important corridor.”
OSI’s acquisition of the properties, which will ultimately be turned over to the Black Rock Forest Consortium for permanent management, also ensures a permanent route for the Highlands Trail, a 125-mile trail that runs from the Hudson River near Bear Mountain through the Highlands of New Jersey and on to the Delaware River.
Traversing Storm King State Park, Black Rock Forest, Schunnemunk Mountain State Park and numerous other public parks, watershed areas and wildlife management areas, the trail had been threatened by increasing development on the western escarpment of the Black Rock Forest Preserve.
This project will keep the Highlands Trail on permanently protected lands.
“These acquisitions, although small in acreage, will have dramatic effects by preserving recreational access in the region for many thousands of people, while protecting habitat for plants and animals. This region of New York is one of the state’s most ecologically diverse, and therefore important to permanently protect,” said OSI CEO Kim Elliman.