Open Space Institute launches Catskills land protection program and announces third acquisition

NEW YORK, NY - December 17, 2003 - On December 17th, the Open Space Institute announced the acquisition of a 259-acre property in the Southern Catskills at a closing in New York City. The land purchase, which will help protect a renowned trout fishery, was completed just a week after OSI announced its new Catskills Land Protection Program. 

OSI's land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy (OSC), acquired the land. The property, known as the Van Norden estate, is located in the Town of Neversink in Sullivan County. It is within the Catskill Park and bounded on three sides by New York State Forest Preserve. Because of its proximity to these protected lands, New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has identified it as a priority acquisition. In the Spring, OSI expects to convey the majority of the estate to DEC for inclusion in the Willowemoc/Long Pond Wild Forest Management Unit of the New York State Forest Preserve. 

Many firsts in the history of fly-fishing in the Catskills can be traced to the Willowemoc and the Van Norden Estate, noted Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute. In 1869, the Willowemoc Club, the first fishing Club in the Catskills, was formed. The Club built a farmhouse on the Van Norden property and used it as its headquarters. Years later, the farmhouse served as the first headquarters of the Woman Flyfishers Club. Because the farmhouse would be an illegal “nonconforming use” within the Forest Preserve if acquired by the State, OSI will sell it along with twenty acres to a private conservation buyer. The property will be protected by a conservation easement. 

“The Willowemoc Creek, which snakes through the property, is a blue ribbon trout stream. Anglers from all over the world visit the Willowemoc, or Willow, in pursuit of wild trout,” said Martens. “Acquiring this property will protect this great stream, a tributary of the Beaverkill, and provide unmatched recreation opportunities,” continued Martens. 

On December 8th, the Open Space Institute announced its new Catskills Land Protection Program at a press conference in Woodstock, New York. The acquisition of two properties, about 300 acres total, on the upper reaches of the iconic Overlook Mountain officially launched the new program. “The Van Norden acquisition is one of three transactions in a two week period. OSI's new land protection program is working against the clock in response to escalating development threats in the Catskills,” said Jennifer Grossman, vice president of land acquisition for OSI, who handled the closing this morning. 

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