New York, NY - September 1, 2008 - Combining land conservation, recreational and economic development goals for the Catskills, the Open Space Institute (OSI) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced recently the acquisition of nearly 20 acres of prime recreation land at the southeastern gateway to the 300,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve.
The 19.52-acre Frazer property was purchased by the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, for $146,920. It will be conveyed to DEC and managed as part of the Catskill Forest Preserve. Funding for this phase of the acquisition came from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001. State acquisition will be funded by the Environmental Protection Fund.
“The Frazer acquisition will be the first of several projects within the Bluestone Wild Forest area of the Catskill Park,” said Jennifer Grossman, OSI’s vice president for land acquisition. “Not only does it provide a buffer to sensitive natural resources, but it represents the type of small-scale sustainable economic development that this region desperately needs. It’s close to popular transportation corridors, creates opportunities around which local tourism businesses will flourish, and it encourages the use and appreciation of the natural assets of the Forest Preserve.”
The Frazer property will be an important addition to an existing mountain bike trail system, as it buffers the Bluestone Wild Forest, a section of the Catskills with terrain suited for more intensive recreation such as mountain biking, hunting and hiking. Its protection was strongly supported by local residents and recreation and advocacy groups. It will permanently protect a vital conduit—via the historic Wintergreen quarry road—between the Town of Kingston community center and the trail network of the Bluestone Wild Forest, preventing incompatible development at an important gateway to the Catskill Preserve.
“I applaud the efforts of the Open Space Institute, the Woodstock Land Conservancy, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, and Fats in the Cats, a local bicycling club, for the collaborative effort they embarked upon in identifying, and now pursuing, opportunities to enhance and preserve the Bluestone Wild Forest,” said DEC Regional Director Willie Janeway. “This acquisition is the first of what we all hope will be many great additions that improve access for a variety of recreational users.”
This acquisition is likely the first of several in the Bluestone Wild Forest, an area OSI and DEC have targeted for the addition of recreational lands and protection of remaining undeveloped viewshed areas along Route 28, the Catskill Preserve’s most traveled entryway, near Kingston.
Economic benefits for the area should be seen in the form of increased recreation-based tourism and bicycle-related commercial development. The popularity of mountain biking has grown rapidly in recent years, and there has been a strong demand for more trails in the Catskills.
“We are delighted with this purchase, which will protect the beautiful, centuries-old Wintergreen quarry road gateway to the Bluestone Wild Forest as well as an important tributary of the Sawkill Creek. Our community spoke,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Woodstock Land Conservancy. “As a mountain biker myself, I hope the news of this purchase inspires many new riders to come experience the world-class trail riding here in Bluestone and the Catskills.”
The Frazer acquisition is the latest effort in OSI’s longstanding Catskills protection initiative. In the past 40 years, the Open Space Institute has conserved more than 20,000 acres in the Catskills, protecting watershed lands for New York City as well as preserving wildlife habitat and recreational areas for the millions who visit the mountain range.