Open Space Institute Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Protection of 4,000 Acres in the Mid-Hudson Valley

Image Credit: Eric Krieger

NEW YORK, NY (Jan. 6, 2020) - The Open Space Institute (OSI) today hailed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to protect 4,000 acres in the Mid-Hudson Valley. The plan, to be included in the governor’s State of the State address, underscores the value of open space preservation for the protection of forests and watersheds, while also recognizing the Hudson Valley as a premier outdoor recreation destination. As noted in the governor’s announcement, the projects were funded through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the Hudson Highlands Conservation Fund.

Of the 4,000 acres identified for park expansion, more than 2,700 acres were protected by OSI, including land expanding Minnewaska, Schunnemunk, and Harriman State Parks.

“The protection of 4,000 acres in the Mid-Hudson Valley is a major achievement and OSI is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo to expand Minnewaska, Schunnemunk, and Harriman State Parks,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “New York’s state parks belong to all New Yorkers and by protecting and expanding the places where we hike, walk and bike, we are also ensuring the future protection of their natural resources and wildlife habitats.”

Elliman also stressed the importance of the Environmental Protection Fund in preserving open space throughout New York State. “Maintaining support of the EPF is critical as we look to further protect New York’s most at-risk and ecologically significant properties,” he said.

Among the projects slated to be transferred from OSI to New York State Parks in 2020 are:

Minnewaska State Park Preserve - 633 acres. This includes several parcels and is a major addition to the northeastern section of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County. The assemblage will increase recreational opportunities on the north end of the park and protect important views both from the park and the adjacent Rondout Valley. The acreage will also protect important wildlife habitat and prevent fragmentation of the forest in the northern Shawangunk Mountains. Over its 40-year history, OSI has more than doubled the size of the 24,000-acre park, making it the third largest state park in New York.

Schunnemunk State Park - 158 acres. This important addition to Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County will provide a critical link to an anticipated public trail between Schunnemunk State Park and Storm King Arts Center, while protecting the Moodna Creek watershed. Schunnemunk State Park, now more than 4,000 acres, offers 360-degree views of adjacent valleys, the distant Hudson River and surrounding forest and farmlands.

Minnewaska includes 50 miles of trails and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area.
Minnewaska includes 50 miles of trails and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area.
Image Credit: Greg Miller

Completed OSI projects highlighted by the governor include:

Minnewaska State Park Preserve - 740 acres. The acquisitions from OSI on the southeast edge of the Preserve include the largest remaining tract of privately-held open space on the Shawangunk Ridge and help preserve globally rare pitch pine barrens that occur at Sam's Point as well as a stretch of the Verkeerderkill.

Schunnemunk State Park - 780 acres. These lands permanently protect open space that had been targeted for major residential development and extend a significant conservation corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain. New York State Parks has entered into a 10-year management agreement with OSI to maintain the 702-acre "Legacy Ridge," a forested parcel in Woodbury. OSI will manage the property, create a trailhead and add trails for public use and enjoyment.

Harriman State Park - 404 acres. The property is located less than a mile from the Harriman Metro-North train station and allows for greater public access to the park. The property also connects to the Long Path, a celebrated long-distance hiking trail which runs just east of the property and links to a four-mile network of carriage roads and trails originally by the Harriman family, which were protected by OSI in 2017.

In addition to the projects completed by OSI, Elliman congratulated OSI’s Hudson Valley conservation partners, including Scenic Hudson, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, and the Orange County Land Trust for the critical role they are playing in protecting and expanding state parks in the region.

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