OSI Acquisition Links Bashakill Wildlife Management Area to Three State Forests in the Shawangunks

Image Credit: Steve Aaron

WURTSBORO, NY (April 10, 2018)—Building on a three-decade legacy of conservation in the region, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has conserved more critical acreage along the scenic Shawangunk Ridge for wildlife habitat and recreation. The newly-conserved land safeguards the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) while serving as a critical connecting parcel for three celebrated trails in the state.

A priority acquisition of the New York State Open Space Plan, the 117-acre “Kaufman” property buffers the northern part of the Bashakill WMA and its pristine freshwater wetland, the largest in southeastern New York. Kaufman also links the WMA to three large state forests — Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests — along the Shawangunk Ridge.

A hiker walks alongside the Bashakill WMA marshes.
A hiker walks alongside the Bashakill WMA marshes.
Image Credit: Janice Pospisil

“The Open Space Institute is proud to have conserved the Kaufman property as an addition to the Bashakill, building on a conservation project we first completed in the 1970s. This newly-conserved land will help protect an amazing natural resource, while enhancing the local economies supported by recreational tourism,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “We commend the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for their dedication to protecting the Shawangunks and the residents who value on this beautiful, natural place.”

“We are thrilled with the Open Space Institute’s acquisition of this important property immediately adjacent to the Bashakill WMA,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Conserving this parcel provides additional protection to headwaters of the Bashakill wetland and to the Shawangunk Ridge overlooking this important area for wildlife and public enjoyment. DEC is proud to partner with the Open Space Institute to preserve and protect another irreplaceable piece of New York’s natural beauty.”

A state-designated Bird Conservation Area and popular destination for paddlers and hikers, the Bashakill WMA hosts three trails: the O&W Canal Path and Rail Trail, the Shawangunk Ridge Trail and the Long Path.

Bashakill WMA is celebrated by wildlife watchers and paddlers alike.
Bashakill WMA is celebrated by wildlife watchers and paddlers alike.
Image Credit: Brett Cole

Acquisition of the Kaufman property will enhance each of these trails. For instance, Kaufman will enable the consolidation of an approximately 11-mile stretch of the O&W Canal Path and Rail Trail running from just north of the Village of Wurtsboro to the Bashakill WMA.

Linking the state forests to the Bashakill also enables the two long-distance regional trails, the Shawangunk Ridge Trail and the Long Path, to be relocated onto the Shawangunk Ridge, rather than running through the streets of the Village of Wurtsboro. The Shawangunk Ridge Trail runs for 71 miles along the dramatic Shawangunk Ridge from New Jersey to Rosendale, NY, while the Long Path Trail runs 358 miles from New York City to John Boyd Thacher State Park near Albany, NY.

The Kaufman property acquisition furthers a much larger effort by OSI and other conservation organizations over the last 30 years to protect the 50-mile Shawangank Ridge, which runs from the New Jersey border to Rosendale, NY.

More than 50,000 acres of conservation holdings, including the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve, the Bashakill WMA, several large units of state forest land, and other conservation holdings, all function as a lengthy and nearly continuous recreational and ecological “greenway” running through Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties.   

Conservation of the Kaufman property also builds on land-protection projects OSI has completed in and around the area. For instance, OSI first conserved the 3,107-acre Bashakill WMA in the 1970s, as one of its earliest land protection projects, and through subsequent projects increased the WMA to its present size of more than 4,100 acres.

Additionally, OSI conserved the northern section of O&W Rail Trail that links to Kaufman, and in 2016 donated it to the Town of Mamakating.

Looking ahead, OSI will hold onto the Kaufman property until DEC acquires it as an addition to Bashakill WMA.

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