3805 Crane From Top Of Huckleberry Dave Kraus

Highlands Conservation Act Funded for the First Time - $2 Million Provided for Land Conservation Projects in the Region

Image Credit: Dave Kraus

New York, NY - The Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute (OSI), recently provided a $461,000 loan to the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (The Trail Conference) to help permanently protect a key 256-acre tract along the Shawangunk Ridge near Port Jervis, NY. The property is destined for permanent ownership and protection by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The Trail Conference acquired the property in early 2006 from a private seller, thus forestalling the potential for development. The recent loan from OSC will ensure that the project remains protected until the state acquisition can occur.

The project area lies at the southern terminus of the Shawangunk ridge, serving as an anchor for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail, before it passes into New Jersey and connects with the Appalachian Trail. The land will eventually become part of the 541-acre Huckleberry State Forest, which was created in 2003 with the support of OSI and the Trust for Public Land. The vital acquisition will help link other key parcels and bring Huckleberry Forest to 1,400 acres.

Less than two hours driving distance from New York City, in an area of rolling hills and farmland, the parcel had been under significant threat of development. The entire Port Jervis area has been experiencing rapid development of both primary and secondary homes, and a significant portion of the project area would have been targeted as a prime development site.

OSI and the Trail Conference have for years been active in land protection in the Shawangunk Ridge region. The recent project is part of a larger initiative to create a tri-state greenway along the Appalachian Highlands from Pennsylvania to New York. The protection effort was recognized by the Highlands Act of 2005, which provides funding for land protection in this ecologically significant region.

“This loan furthers our collective efforts to protect the entire 48 miles of the Shawangunk Ridge,” said Robert K. Anderberg, OSI’s general counsel. “For its part, OSI has protected more than 24,000 acres of land that span three counties and ten towns in New York. We welcome and appreciate the Trail Conference’s work in this endeavor.”

Since 2001, OSI’s Conservation Finance Program has made almost 30 loans totaling more than $30 million across the eastern United States, including three loans totaling almost $1.4 million to land trusts to protect 483 acres of land in the Hudson Valley.

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