WAWARSING, NY (Oct. 25, 2023)— The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the acquisition of land in the Town of Wawarsing that marks another critical step toward establishing a protected corridor between the Catskill Park and the Shawangunk Ridge. The property also provides shelter for wildlife and supports efforts to fight climate change.
OSI purchased the 237-acre property from Kristyn Monos, a conservation-minded landowner. Situated in Ulster County between the southern boundary of the Catskill Park and the northwestern boundary of the Shawangunk Ridge, the “Monos” property represents an essential link between the Shawangunk’s 30,000 acres of protected land and the Catskill Park’s 288,000 acres of protected land.
The Monos property is in close proximity to more than 1,000 acres protected by OSI in late 2022. Together, the two properties form a solid foundation toward the creation of a Shawangunk-to-Catskills corridor and fulfilling OSI’s long-time goal of assembling an undeveloped swath of land between the Catskills and the Shawangunks.
“With the permanent protection of this property, a years-long effort to protect the landscape between the Catskill Park and the Shawangunk Ridge is finally taking shape,” said Matt Decker, a project manager at OSI. “In fast growing regions like Ulster County, it is becoming increasingly important for OSI to act with urgency and determination to save the land that matters for the health of our of our families, our communities, our wildlife, and our planet.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Not only will the addition of this corridor help increase public access to recreational opportunities within the Catskill Forest Preserve, but the protection of this land will provide critical habitat for plant and animal species and protect biodiversity, a key conservation priority in the face of a changing climate. We are grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute for their outstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and land preservation for all.”
Land donor Kristyn Monos expressed her gratitude for OSI’s partnership and work, saying, “I am grateful for the OSI mission in protecting our land for the good of the climate and for the public to enjoy."
“The Town of Wawarsing has been and continues to be a Climate Smart Community. OSI’s protection of 237 acres of forest and wetlands connecting to other protected lands helps us reach our environmental goals, provide recreational opportunities, and safeguard sources of clean water for residents, visitors, and future generations,” said Town of Wawarsing Supervisor Terry Houck. “I’m glad to see that OSI has taken the necessary steps to ensure this property is permanently protected for the benefit of our community.”
The Monos property contains wetlands and streams, including a section of the Fantine Kill winding through a hemlock forest. The Fantine Kill flows to the Rondout Creek and ultimately to the Hudson River. OSI’s protection of the property will help safeguard downstream water quality and slow the swell of floodwaters during heavy rain events.
OSI’s acquisition also protects a critical resource in the ongoing fight to mitigate the effects of climate change. Mature forests can sequester up to 35 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions each year, providing a natural climate solution in the fight against climate change. The Monos property is heavily forested, allowing it to capture and store significant amounts of carbon. According to OSI’s data analysis, the property stores more than 21,750 metric tons of carbon, or nearly 92 metric tons per acre, in soils and trees.
The property also contains multiple types of wildlife habitat and is home to a diversity of plant and animal species. Within a corridor that has been labeled as “above average” in terms of resilience and landscape biodiversity, the property is uniquely positioned to continue to support a broad array of plants and animals even as the climate changes.
The property, purchased by OSI for $500,000, is anticipated to be transferred to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as protected land for public recreational use.