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Open Space Institute acquires historic Tahawus Tract, capping eight-year effort

NEW YORK, NY - August 19, 2003 - On August 19th, 2003, The Open Space Institute, Inc. (OSI), acquired the 9,646-acre Tahawus Tract in a closing at OSI's headquarters in New York City. OSI acquired the property through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, for a purchase price of $8.5 million.

The Adirondack property represents the second largest land purchase by OSI since the organization was founded in 1963. It has long been at the top of the conservation community's “must save” list. Joe Martens, president of OSI, started negotiations with the seller, Houston based National Lead (NL) Industries, almost a decade ago. NL purchased the land in the 1940s and ran a titanium mine until 1982. OSI is acquiring the non-industrial portion of the NL property.

“The Tahawus Tract is absolutely breathtaking,” said Martens. “Its defining natural features include rugged mountains, crystal clear, glacially carved lakes, and the headwaters of the Hudson River. OSI has historically focused on the Hudson River and its watershed---so you can imagine why we were steadfast in our pursuit of this project---this is a significant piece of the State Forest Preserve puzzle and a very exciting breakthrough,” continued Martens.

The planned acquisition of the Tahawus Tract was announced on May 21 by Governor Pataki, who told the New York Times shortly after his announcement: “This is an extraordinarily important parcel and it's been a top priority.” Last year, the Governor announced that the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, administered by the State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC,) would be expanded to allow non-profit groups to apply for no interest loans for non-point source projects that preserve open space and protect water quality. As a result, OSI became the first to accept such a loan—for $6.1 million—to acquire the Tahawus Tract.

Under the agreement, OSI will repay the loan and sell a significant portion of the Tahawus Tract, approximately 6,000 acres, to the State of New York. “We couldn't have completed this acquisition without the Governor's support and enthusiasm. The acquisition of the Tahawus Tract is a great example of a highly successful public-private partnership,” said Joe Martens.

Martens noted the significance of the 450-acre Henderson Lake, one of many pristine lakes on the property. “The Hudson River begins at the outlet of Henderson Lake where the river is a narrow and inconspicuous mountain stream,” said Martens. “Just a few miles away is Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State. A small pond---Lake Tear of the Clouds---is located on the flank of Mount Marcy and is considered to be highest waterbody in the entire Hudson River watershed.”

The acquisition, said Martens, will also protect the remains of the historic mining village of Adirondac, where one of New York's first hunting clubs regularly welcomed Teddy Roosevelt. Vice President Roosevelt was staying at the Tahawus Club in September 1901, when he got word that President McKinley was dying from a bullet wound by an assassin. It is from here that Roosevelt embarked on his famous “Midnight Ride” along the back roads of the Adirondacks to the North Creek Train Station. Having completed his treacherous carriage ride, Roosevelt arrived at the station to learn that the President had died and that Roosevelt would soon be sworn in as the nation's 26th President. Today, the village of Adirondac is listed on the State and Federal Register of Historic Places. 

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