ALBANY, NY (Dec. 24, 2019) - The Open Space Institute (OSI) has been awarded $1.2 million to improve trail access at two of the Hudson Valley’s premier state parks, Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, and Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Putnam County. The two grants were awarded through the New York State Regional Economic Development Council and funded through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).
At Minnewaska State Park, $600,000 has been awarded to OSI to continue its work in restoring the preserve’s series of historic carriage roads. With this grant, OSI will commence work to restore the High Point Carriage Road, allowing the current carriage road network to connect to the Sam’s Point section of the Park. The High Point project will overhaul 2.5 miles of carriage road. To date, OSI, with the support of the EPF, the Butler Conservation Fund, and others, has fully restored more than 12 miles of the highly popular carriage road system that runs along the spine of the Shawangunk Ridge.
An addiitonal grant for $600,000 was also awarded to OSI for its ongoing work to improve public access and trails at Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park. This funding takes OSI another step closer to restoring several existing trails in the park’s northern reaches. The project includes realignment of existing trails, construction of pedestrian bridges, new wayfinding signs, and the installation of an informational kiosk at the Hubbard Lodge trailhead. The trail improvements were planned and designed thanks to a donation from Lucy Waletzky, Chair of the NY State Council of Parks.
“We thank Governor Cuomo and members of the New York State Regional Economic Development Council for their commitment to these two transformative park projects. These grants, made available through a competitive process with a focus on economic impact, underscore the important role outdoor recreation and trails play as economic drivers,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “OSI is proud to be a leader in supporting these exciting projects that will ultimately encourage more people to get out and enjoy New York’s premier state parks.”
The grants, totaling $1.2 million, complement OSI’s commitment to match state funding dollar-for-dollar and leverage private and local funding through OSI’s Parks program. These projects, planned for two of New York’s most prominent state park landscapes, will expand and deepen visitor experiences at the parks through enhanced orientation and accessibility.
The projects are located in counties where OSI has a long land conservation history, which includes doubling the size of both Minnewaska and Clarence Fahnestock Memorial state parks.
At more than 24,000 acres, Minnewaska is now the third-largest park in New York State. Here, OSI has also completed restoration of several of Minnewaska’s gentle, broken stone carriage roads including the Hamilton Point Carriage Road, the Castle Point Carriage Road, and a section of the Lake Awosting Carriage Road. Most recently, OSI spearheaded the $1.9 million restoration of 4.5 miles of the Smiley Carriage Road and is working with New York State Parks to create a new Minnewaska visitor center.
At Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, OSI led a campaign to revitalize Canopus Lake Beach, making critically needed repairs to the park’s outdated recreational facilities along with new park gateway signage. For the past two years, OSI has also partnered with cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point to replace trail bridges near the Hubbard Lodge area of Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park.
The EPF supports and protects parks by providing critical funding for stewardship, public access, open space land protection, and municipal parks. The EPF supports projects that protect water quality and farmland, boost public access for outdoor recreation and conserve important open space areas that will benefit community health, tourism, and economic development. Through the EPF, New York is bolstering the extensive network of land trusts that provide support for environmental and open space programs.