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Open Space Institute donates Trapps Lands to Mohonk Preserve

NEW YORK, NY - April 7, 2003 - On April 5th, the Open Space Institute donated 117 acres of prime, recreational lands to the Mohonk Preserve. 

The 117-acre tract is locacated in the foothills of the internationally renowned “Trapps” climbing cliffs of the Mohonk Preserve. Seventy percent of the Mohonk Preserve's 150,000 annual visitors access the ridge through this “Trapps Gateway” area, which also hosts the Mohonk Preserve's Visitor Center. The Preserve is a world-class environmental learning center, offering visitors access to over 100 miles of carriage roads and trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. Home to the world-famous “Gunks” climbing cliffs, the Preserve also features 1,000 climbing routes along five linear miles of cliff face. 

Acquired by OSI from 1996 through 2001 as a joint venture with the Preserve, the 117-acre Trapps Gateway tract made possible the construction of the Preserve's award-winning, “green design” Visitor Center and its surrounding trail network. It also protects views to and from the cliffs and the headwaters of the Mara Kill, and buffers the ridge and the Route 299 corridor from encroaching development. 

“The Mohonk Preserve has established a premier nature preserve at the Trapps Gateway. The Visitor Center fits in beautifully with the natural landscape that surrounds it,” said Joe Martens, President of OSI. 

According to Martens, OSI has acquired more than 18,000 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge and its environs. The Shawangunks are a geologically and environmentally unique area, consisting of 47 miles of ridge running from the New Jersey border on the south to near New Paltz on the north. The Shawangunks have been named the recipient of several accolades such as one of the “best city escapes,” “best hike,” and “best view.” The Shawangunks are also an ecological jewel, hosting a rare pitch-pine community and habitat for over thirty rare and endangered species. 

OSI started acquiring land for future protection in the Shawangunks in 1987. Protecting the magnificent foothills of the mountain range has been a conservation priority for OSI. Other conservation priorities include the expansion of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the creation of Sam's Point Preserve, the Witch's Hole Conservation Area, the Shawangunk State Forest Preserve, and creating a nearly 6,000-acre protected linkage between the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill Park. Many of these areas, if not protected, would be ripe for development. 

Today, 40% or over 35,000 acres of the northern Shawangunks are protected, thanks in part to OSI's perseverance. “When I first hiked this land 32 years ago, I was mesmerized by the landscape. I had never seen anything like it,” said Robert Anderberg, OSI's General Counsel who was once a summer ranger for the Mohonk Preserve. 

Supporting OSI's land protection efforts are its land management partners on the ridge, including the Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and others. 

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Mohonk Preserve was the first land trust established to protect the Shawangunk Ridge. It was initially established as the Mohonk Trust in 1963 by the Smiley family, proprietors of the Mohonk Mountain House resort hotel. A separate non-profit organization, the Preserve carries on the Smiley legacy of conservation, dating back over 130 years. “We are indebted to the Smileys for their foresight and perseverance. And we extend a big 'thank you' to OSI for its initiative and leadership in protecting the ridge for future generations,” said Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director of the Mohonk Preserve.

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