TOWN OF KINGSTON, NY (June 24, 2020)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced that 208 acres of forested land has been added to the Catskill Park’s Bluestone Wild Forest, officially creating a link between two previously unconnected sections of the Wild Forest: Jockey Hill to the east and Onteora Lake to the west. Located just five minutes from the NYS Thruway in Kingston, the expansion of the Wild Forest, along with a new multi-use trail created by OSI and local partners, will enhance recreation opportunities in the southeast section of the Catskill Park.
During its ownership, OSI, working with the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Tahawus Trails and in coordination with DEC and bicycle advocacy group Fats in the Cats, constructed the 2-mile “Main Turnpike Trail” on the property. The new trail connects the existing Jockey Hill and Onteora Lake trails within the 3,000-acre Bluestone Wild Forest and establishes a new entry point to the forest via Morey Hill Road.
Located near the city of Kingston and the town of Woodstock, the Bluestone Wild Forest is a popular outdoor recreation destination. The creation of the trail on the former OSI property is part of a regional effort to establish hubs of destination-quality multi-use trails, diversify recreational use of the Catskill Mountains, and increase economic activity through enhanced year-round recreational opportunities. The protected and enhanced property figures largely in OSI’s efforts to help support Ulster County’s expanding green tourism economy and relieve pressure on wildly popular trailheads and important summits while also protecting and consolidating significant portions of the Catskill Park.
The multi-use trail is now open for hikers, mountain bikers, runners, walkers, and skiers. The gently sloping, family-oriented trails run alongside bluestone outcroppings, creating another fun and relaxing way to enjoy Bluestone Wild Forest.
“This project underscores the power of partnerships,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “From the time OSI originally secured this connector property, the vision was to create a new trail amenity. Being able to construct it before transferring the property to the Department of Environmental Conservation greatly accelerated the timing for the trail – which was made possible by the support and partnership of the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Fats in the Cats.”
“This project underscores the power of partnerships,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO, thanking the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Woodstock Land Conservancy, & Fats in the Cats.
“Whether hiking, mountain biking, trail running, skiing, birding or just the quiet enjoyment of nature, the property and its new trails have become a valued resource for people in the neighborhoods and communities surrounding Bluestone,” said Maxanne Resnick, Executive Director of Woodstock Land Conservancy. “Destination-quality trail systems are important components of sustainable, economic development and promote healthy, active lifestyles and communities. We have successfully collaborated with OSI on several area projects and are greatly appreciative of their passion for and recognition of the Catskills extraordinary beauty as well as its importance to locals and tourists alike. In the future we envision linking these trails to the Ashokan Rail Trail, enhancing further this multi-use trail system for many.”
Consisting of forested slopes, wetlands, and remnants of the area’s bluestone quarry history, the property includes the northern portion of a high-quality body of water known as Pickerel Pond. This coordinated effort to enhance the Bluestone Wild Forest has been achieved at the same time that local officials continue to review plans to construct a steel and precast concrete manufacturing operation directly adjacent to the former OSI-owned land. OSI has weighed in on the proposed project, raising both environmental and procedural concerns about the plant, and continues to advocate for the completion of an environmental impact statement to ensure the protection of the surrounding land and water.
First purchased by OSI in February 2019 from the Aldulaimi family, the property has now been transferred to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Before its protection, the land was listed as one of the most important inholdings in the Onteora Lake region by the Bluestone Wild Forest Land Protection Initiative. OSI’s acquisition of the property also fulfilled New York State’s Open Space Plan goal of consolidating Bluestone Wild Forest between Route 28 and Sawkill Road.