Overlook Mountain

Open Space Institute Awarded NYS Conservation Partnership Program Grant

NEW YORK, NY - June 14, 2006 - At a press conference in Albany this morning, the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced grant awards for its 2006 Conservation Partnership Program. The Open Space Institute was honored to be the recipient of a $10,000 Conservation Capacity and Excellence Grant to develop a regional model for building land conservation partnerships in the Hudson Valley. The Open Space Institute, which has protected close to 100,000 acres in New York State since 1964, is a first-time NYSCPP grantee. 

“The Conservation Partnership Program, which is administered by LTA, is a unique and innovative initiative that assists land trusts throughout New York State with technical, financial and organizational support,” said Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute. Added Martens, “OSI is proud to be associated with this program and delighted to have this opportunity to help two of its valued conservation partners.” According to Martens, the grant will enable OSI to expand its work with two local land trusts, the Woodstock Land Conservancy and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, which conserve land in the Catskills and Shawangunks, respectively. OSI has protected close to 45,000 acres in these two regions collectively since the 1970s. 

The Conservation Partnership Program grant awards announced this morning by the LTA and New York State DEC were appropriated by the Governor and Legislature in the 2005-06 Environmental Protection Fund. Because of the current impasse in Albany—the state budget has not been approved despite just a matter of days before the Legislature adjourns — the 2006/07 EPF budget has yet to be appropriated and the innovative Conservation Partnership Program could be in jeopardy a year from now. 

Said OSI's Martens, “It's critical that the Legislature appropriate EPF funds before it adjourns for the Session. The future of the Partnership Program, as well as funding for clean air, water, recycling, and many other important programs, hangs in the balance.” Martens, who was instrumental in drafting and securing legislative enactment of New York State's Environmental Protection Fund, said that the Conservation Partnership Program captures the original spirit of the EPF, which supports community based efforts to improve the state's air and water quality and protect its open space. 

The grant to OSI will be used to support two conservation campaigns in which OSI has worked with local land trusts to raise community awareness and support for land conservation. “It's a partnership model in the truest sense of the word because we rely on local land trusts for their knowledge of the important natural, historic and scenic resources within their communities while they benefit from our transaction and fundraising expertise,” noted Martens. 

In Woodstock, New York, OSI has been working with the Woodstock Land Conservancy for more than four years to raise local support for open space acquisitions on the upper flanks of Overlook Mountain, an iconic landscape with outstanding scenic and natural resource values. To date, OSI and WLC have protected 400 acres on Overlook that will become part of the New York State Forest Preserve. The “Save Overlook Mountain” campaign has been a critical component of OSI's conservation program in the Catskill Region, where OSI has protected more than 20,000 acres. 

In New Paltz, New York, OSI entered into a partnership in 2005 with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust to permanently conserve 180 acres of farmland in New Paltz. Through the joint “Two Farms” campaign, OSI and WVLT have raised community awareness about the urgent need to permanently protect the last two working farms in the historic Village of New Paltz. Prior to working with WVLT on the “Two Farms” initiative, OSI joined WVLT in a successful effort in 2003 to protect the Phillies Bridge Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project that provides fresh produce to local residents in addition to nutrition counseling and outreach to lower income families. First farmed in 1743, Phillies Bridge Farm is one of the oldest working farms in New York. OSI has protected approximately 24,000 acres in the Shawangunks to date. 

The mission of the Open Space Institute is to protect scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, special loan programs, and creative partnerships. 

The Open Space Institute has protected nearly 100,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Loan Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of 1.4 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina. 

The Land Trust Alliance was founded in 1982 and headquartered in Washington D.C., the Land Trust Alliance (www.lta.org) works directly with more than 1,200 land trusts nationwide, including 80+ New York land trusts representing 36,000 individual members. Working with state and local governments, local, regional and national land trusts have protected over 990,000 acres of land in New York State and more than 34 million acres nationwide.

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