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Heritage Farmland atop the Helderberg Plateau Conserved by OSI

Photo Credit: Charlie Burgess

RENSSELAERVILLE, NY (April 24, 2018)—Building on its commitment to conservation in the Helderbergs, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has conserved additional acreage in southeastern Albany County. Protection of the property will safeguard scenic views around the historic town of Rensselaerville while increasing the size of Rensselaerville State Forest.

Purchased by OSI for $455,000 and totaling 267 acres, the Hillicoss Family Farm property comprises two parcels of heritage farmland and forests. Recently, the property was the subject of a major subdivision development proposal that would have resulted in 18 new housing lots along the scenic ridge overlooking the Catskill Creek.

The land will increase the size of the state forest by 25 percent once the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) acquires it and an adjoining 300-acre parcel, adjacent to Rensselaerville State Forest and conserved in 2016 by OSI’s local land trust partner, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy.

The acquisition also continues OSI’s commitment to the greater Helderberg Plateau. Over the past two decades OSI added over 1,200 acres to nearby Thacher State Park — doubling the size of the park — and led a private fundraising campaign for state-of-the-art exhibits at the park’s new visitor center, which opened in May 2017. In the image, OSI's Erik Kulleseid speaks at the center opening.
The acquisition also continues OSI’s commitment to the greater Helderberg Plateau. Over the past two decades OSI added over 1,200 acres to nearby Thacher State Park — doubling the size of the park — and led a private fundraising campaign for state-of-the-art exhibits at the park’s new visitor center, which opened in May 2017. In the image, OSI's Erik Kulleseid speaks at the center opening.
Photo Credit: Mike Groll

“This addition to Rensselaerville State Forest will help protect one of the most scenic vistas of the Capital Region, and help protect the historic nature of Rensselaerville,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “We commend the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on its tireless efforts to protect critical lands for the residents of New York.”

“The Rensselaerville State Forest is valuable natural resource in the Capital Region and we are proud to partner with the Open Space Institute to conserve this natural area for future generations to enjoy,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York's forests not only provide some of the best recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors but are also important economic resources, benefiting local communities and industries, and the state as a whole.”   

The Hillicoss Family Farm property consists of two parcels bisected by Cheese Hill Road. The eastern parcel consists of 160 acres and contains a small tributary of Catskill Creek, while the western 107-acre parcel includes sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains.

Conservation of the property builds upon OSI and its partners’ vision of creating a patchwork of publicly-accessible preserved lands across the Helderbergs to the Catskill Creek.

“Acquisition of the Hillicoss Family Farm property is a wonderful addition to the protected lands in western Albany County and the foothills of the Catskills,” said Mark King, Director of Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. “Protection of the land builds on the effort to create a connected corridor of conservation lands on the Helderberg Escarpment. The rolling, rugged landscape provides spectacular views of the surrounding rural landscape and preserves extensive wildlife habitat while contributing to the protection of clean water and beautiful open spaces.”

The acquisition also continues OSI’s commitment to the greater Helderberg Plateau. Over the past two decades OSI added over 1,200 acres to nearby Thacher State Park — doubling the size of the park — and led a private fundraising campaign for state-of-the-art exhibits at the park’s new visitor center, which opened in May 2017. And, with partners, OSI has protected more than 1,000 acres of scenic farmland in and around historic Rensselaerville, including the Hillicoss Family Farm property.

Ten miles west of Albany, surrounding the cities and communities of New York’s Capital Region, the Helderbergs’ rugged limestone cliffs rise more than 1,100 feet over the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. Atop the Helderbergs, the 2,572-acre Rensselaerville State Forest features more than eight miles of trails open to the public for a variety of uses. The state forest is a year-round destination for outdoor recreation.

Looking ahead, OSI will hold onto the property until DEC acquires it for Rensselaerville State Forest.

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