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Open Space Institute helps protect Orange County farm

New York, NY - October 22, 2003 - On October 22, the Open Space Institute and the Town of Montgomery announced the permanent protection of the Hoekstra Family Farm in Orange County, New York. 

Situated on a scenic country road in Montgomery, the 166-acre Hoekstra Farm was a prime development target in the state's fastest growing county. Because the Hoekstra Family's four children all agreed that protecting the farm, settled in the 1870s, was a priority, they were unrelenting in their quest for perpetual farmland protection that was legal and binding. They learned that a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) would encumber the farm and negate the possibility of subdivision or development, even if the farm changed hands. When they were turned down for a State Farmland Protection grant, the siblings sought municipal support and were please to discover that the Town of Montgomery was eager to help on the condition that other funding was leveraged. 

When the Open Space Institute stepped forward with a 12.5% match, the Town of Montgomery agreed to pay $507,394, 75% of the total cost of the PDR. OSI's contribution was funded by the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund for the Hudson Highlands. The Hoekstra family donated the remaining 12.5%. The PDR was finalized at a closing at Town Hall in Montgomery on October 22, according to OSI's vice-president for land acquisition, Jennifer Grossman. “The Hoekstra family was very pleased with the outcome today. Knowing that the farm, settled more than a century ago, will be protected was a source of great pride,” said Grossman. The Open Space Conservancy, OSI's land acquisition affiliate, will co-hold the easement with the Town of Mongtomery. Grossman said OSI has plans for more PDRs in Montgomery in a joint effort with the Town that will tap into local and state dollars to protect vanishing agricultural lands. 

The Hoekstra Farm is graced with many natural attributes that enhance its scenic and environmental value. The southeast corner of the farm is a wetland designated by New York State. The farm's western periphery is graced by the Muddy Kill. Together, the wetland and the stream provide habitat for migratory birds, fish and many other species of wildlife. In addition, the farm provides a superb vantage point for viewing the Shawangunk Ridge. “The protection of the Hoekstra Farm compliments OSI's larger Shawangunk Ridge Land Protection Program. Increasing human populations are putting pressure on the farms that remain in Orange and Ulster counties, so we are keenly aware of the clock ticking as we race to protect the remaining farmland,” said Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute. According to Martens, OSI's Shawangunk Ridge Protection Program has so far protected more than 18,000 acres on and around the Ridge since the program's inception in 1987. 

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