Heart of the Shawangunks Permanently Protected: Open Space Institute Announces Transfer of 3800 Acres to New York State's Minnewska State Park Preserve

NEW YORK, NY - January 24, 2007 - The Open Space Institute announces the transfer of 3,800-acre Sam’s Point to the State of New York, increasing the size of Minnewaska State Park Preserve by nearly twenty-five percent. 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. 

The property, known as Sam’s Point, has been held by the Open Space Conservancy, the land-acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute, since 1997, when it was acquired after a twenty-year fight to protect the site. The land will be managed by The Nature Conservancy, which designated Sam’s Point as one of the “Last Great Places on Earth,” until 2017. 

“Sam’s Point is a precious keystone of the Shawangunks, a globally unique piece of property that is now protected forever,” said Joe Martens, president of The Open Space Institute. “Its legacy will long be enjoyed and appreciated by generations of New Yorkers who value open space.”

Sam’s Point, formerly known as the Ellenville Ice Caves, is the second piece of land in the Shawangunks that the Open Space Institute (OSI) has made available to New York State in the last twelve months. In 2006, OSI played an instrumental role along with the Trust for Public Land in adding 2,518 acres to Minnewaska State Park Preserve with the transfer of the Awosting Reserve property, ending a long battle with developers who proposed a golf course and luxury homes for the area. 

“We are ecstatic about the Sam’s Point addition to Minnewaska State Park that will benefit the Village, Town and our school district,” said Jeffrey Kaplan, Mayor of the Village of Ellenville. “I want to thank OSI for their diligent work in completing this transaction.”

OSI’s Shawangunk Ridge Protection Program has played a fundamental conservation role in the region for more than thirty years, preserving more than 24,000 acres of the 50-mile ridge that extends from the New Jersey state line to Rosendale in Ulster County, New York. OSI is working on preserving an additional 2,000 acres over the next two years, to ensure protection of a continuous, unfragmented area on the Shawangunk Ridge that is rich in both wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. 

Through land acquisition, OSI has protected more than half of the Shawangunk Ridge, including key conservation areas such as Stony Kills Falls, the Witch’s Hole, the Mine Hole Hollow, and the Trapps Gateway. The acquisition of Sam’s Point, an area identified as one of the state’s Open Space Plan priority projects and one of the highest summits in the range, is a cherished addition to the protected landscape. 

Sam’s Point encompasses a ridgetop forest of dwarf pine barrens unlike any other in the world that provides habitat for numerous rare and endangered plant and animal species including broom crowberry and Carolina Cranesbill. Minnewaska State Park Preserve includes a section of the Long Path and offers recreationists miles of carriageways and trails to explore. The area is excellent for hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock-climbing, boating, scuba-diving and cross-country skiing, and the highest points provide 360-degree views of the Catskills, the Taconics and the Hudson Highlands. Sheer cliffs, hardwood forests, cascading waterfalls, and Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting—two of the renowned Sky Lakes—are all contained within the newly-expanded boundaries of the park.

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