More views from Huckleberry Ridge in the Shawangunks

NEW YORK, NY — July 30, 2012 — The Open Space Institute and its partners, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Orange County Land Trust, announced today the protection of 435 acres of scenic forestland on the southern Shawangunk Ridge, close to New York’s border with New Jersey. The parcel, which also includes meadows and four small ponds, is known as the Ridgeview property and is located in the Orange County towns of Deerpark and Greenville.

The partnership acquired the property with private funds which it hopes will be returned once the property is sold to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as an addition to the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest. 

Once the property became available for purchase, the three organizations worked quickly to raise the $1.7 million purchase price. At a time when New York’s finances continue to be constrained, the groups combined forces to purchase a property that had long been targeted for protection by the DEC.  

“The Open Space Institute, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and Orange County Land Trust are to be commended for completing this important conservation project,” said Kathy Moser, New York State Department of Environmental (DEC) Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources. “This acquisition protects the landscape features and natural communities of the southern Shawangunks and provides opportunities for an enhanced recreational trail system, including an improved route for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.”

The partners hope to see the state acquire the property as soon as its finances permit. All three organizations are active members of the Friends of New York’s Environment, a coalition working to restore funding to the Environmental Protection Fund, the state’s principal source of land conservation funding.

“Preserving this land has been important for many years to Greenville area residents,” said New York Senator John Bonacic, who represents the 42nd District, which includes part of Orange County. “It is my hope the land can ultimately be transferred to the state to ensure its preservation forever. I want to applaud Pete Carr for agreeing to this sale and the Open Space Institute and New York-New Jersey Trails for purchasing it.”

The Shawangunk Ridge stretches for 50 miles from Kingston, NY to the New Jersey border. OSI has focused its efforts there since its inception, protecting more than 27,000 acres along the ridge over the last quarter-century. 

However, the area that includes the Ridgeview parcel—an approximately nine-mile stretch of ridge top running from Otisville south to Port Jervis—is the least protected stretch of the entire Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge in New York and New Jersey. 

“This acquisition complements the conservation work we’ve been doing for more than two decades in the Shawangunks,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s CEO and president. “This parcel in particular has been a conservation priority for some time, and we’re thankful to the partners that helped us complete this deal.”

The organizations ultimately hope to create a protected corridor along the length of the Shawangunk Ridge. Doing so would provide a passageway for wildlife and migrating raptors and allow a recreational trail to run the entire length of the ridge. 

“The acquisition of the Ridgeview property brings closer the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s goal of protecting the entire Shawangunk Ridge and our Shawangunk Ridge Trail,” said Gaylord Holmes, vice chair of the Trail Conference’s Board of Directors. “Our goal is preservation of this Gunks Greenway from Port Jervis to the Catskills as a recreational resource for residents and visitors to the area, a valuable habitat for wildlife, and a tourist attraction that brings business to local communities. We are pleased to once again work with our partners OSI, OCLT, and DEC on an important land protection project.”

The Orange County Land Trust will manage the Ridgeview property until it is transferred to the DEC.

“We are delighted to be part of this important conservation effort with OSI and the NY-NJ Trail Conference", said Jim Delaune, executive director of the Orange County Land Trust. “Protecting important ecosystems and wildlife habitat found along this ridge will provide lasting benefits for the people of Orange County. We look forward to stewarding this amazing property, with its scenic beauty and natural wonders, until such time as the land can be transferred and permanently protected by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.”

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