COLUMBIA COUNTY, NY (April 19, 2023)—Fulfilling a long-term conservation objective for the Kinderhook Creek Corridor region of Columbia County, the Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced that it has transferred land in the Town of Kinderhook to two conservation-minded organizations that will use the land for wetland restoration and agricultural cultivation. OSI’s actions achieve the long-term goals of the National Parks Service (NPS) to safeguard the viewshed of the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (MVBNHS) and to protect the agricultural character of the county.
Originally protected by OSI in 2009, the 116-acre Weil Property is comprised of upland agriculture fields and low-lying wetlands along the Kinderhook Creek Corridor, a five-mile stretch of fertile agricultural land running from the Village of Kinderhook to the Town of Stuyvesant.
OSI transferred 73 acres of wetlands on the Weil property to The Wetlands Trust, who will begin a riparian wetlands restoration project to provide enhanced habitat for the area’s robust turtle populations. OSI also transferred 43 acres of the property’s agricultural fields to Equity Trust, who will maintain the agricultural productivity of the uplands.
Situated directly behind the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, the Weil property permanently protects the pastoral landscape of the historic site.
“It's extremely rewarding to see OSI-protected properties in the Kinderhook Creek Corridor being actively used to feed communities, improve wetlands that support thriving wildlife, and maintain historically and agriculturally significant properties,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “OSI is incredibly proud to have leveraged our creative negotiation skills to empower local partners who will manage land in a way that will forever safeguard viewsheds, preserve agricultural lands, and protect natural resources.”
“Kinderhook Creek and its broad floodplains provide habitat for many species of wildlife, including several species of turtles. The Wetland Trust (TWT) manages its newly acquired Kinderhook Creek Preserve to maintain a mosaic of mature hardwood swamp, shrubby thickets, and pollinator-rich meadows, critical for the preserve's turtles. TWT biologists and volunteers are actively monitoring turtle populations at Kinderhook using radio-telemetry and standardized monitoring surveys. This data will be used to further refine and guide our turtle habitat management and population recovery work,” said Jason Tesauro, TWT board member and conservation biologist.
“Equity Trust welcomes the opportunity to incorporate the 43 agricultural acres of the Weil property into the land that we steward and make available to Roxbury Farm. This transfer will secure the long-term care and stewardship of important agricultural soils, strengthen the ongoing viability of Roxbury Farm, and contribute to food security in the region,” said Jim Oldham, executive director of Equity Trust.
"We're grateful to OSI and other land stewards for their tireless work to preserve natural corridors and historic landscapes," said Megan O’Mally from the National Park Service.
Working together with the NPS, local farmers, and other nonprofit organizations, OSI has successfully protected nearly 860 acres of the Kinderhook Creek Corridor over the past two decades, including President Van Buren’s former estate, the estate’s viewshed, and more than six farms that are still in operation today.
Since the 1970s, Columbia County has lost more than half of its farmland to intense development pressure, which remains a threat to existing agricultural fields. The majority of OSI’s efforts in the area have resulted in the permanent protection of precious farmland, including Glencadia Farm and Roxbury Farm.
In 2000, OSI’s work in the area helped provide a home for Roxbury Farm, one of the largest community supported agriculture programs in New York State, which serves fresh vegetables and pasture-raised meat to more than 800 farm-share members in the Capital Region, New York City, and locally. The Weil property transfers further OSI’s ongoing partnership with Roxbury Farm by facilitating the expansion of Equity Trust’s long-term agricultural lease agreement with Roxbury. Roxbury Farms currently cultivates more than 320 acres in the Kinderhook Creek corridor protected by OSI, including portions of the Weil property.
“Roxbury Farm has been farming this land since 2009 and we are grateful to have long term secure access to the 43 acres of agricultural land on the Weil property through our partnerships with Equity Trust and OSI. This additional acreage makes the Equity Trust farm property more sustainable for us and for the farmers who follow us in the future. We look forward to working with our new neighbors, The Wetland Trust, as they restore important wetland habitat,” said Jody Bolluyt from Roxbury Farm.
In addition to being directly adjacent to the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, the Weil property is also in close proximity to the Luykas Van Alen House, a restored 18th-century homestead and museum depicting Dutch rural life in colonial America.
As part of the transfer agreement, OSI will continue to monitor the land annually to ensure that the property remains undeveloped and is only being used for the intended conservation purposes.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities. Founded in 1974 to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has been a partner in the protection of nearly 2.3 million acres in North America.