STOCKPORT & LEBANON, NY (April 22, 2019) — The Open Space Institute (OSI) today joined New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos in celebrating the state’s acquisition of two properties in Columbia County totaling 1,114 acres, including a property protected by OSI.
DEC purchased 590 acres along the Hudson River in the town of Stockport from Scenic Hudson, and 524 acres in the town of New Lebanon from OSI. The acquisitions will preserve critical open space, protect the region’s watershed, and expand recreational opportunities that support the local economy. The announcements were made at an event in Columbia County as part of the State’s weeklong celebration of Earth Day.
“The expansion of Hand Hollow State Forest and the addition of the Empire Brickyard property to our Wildlife Management Areas will improve public recreational access, protect the watershed, and conserve diverse forest resources that are critical carbon-fighting tools in the prevention of climate change,” Commissioner Seggos said. “New York is proud to partner with Scenic Hudson and the Open Space Institute, as well as the original landowners, who had the foresight to secure these lands and ensure they remain protected.”
Doubling the Size of the Hand Hollow State Forest
DEC purchased 524 acres from the Open Space Institute (OSI) for approximately $2.1 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to add to New York’s 518-acre Hand Hollow State Forest. The newly acquired parcels include forestland, meadows, ponds, streams, and wetlands that were identified by DEC as regional conservation priorities. They will help protect the Housatonic and Middle Hudson watersheds, and continue the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases through forest carbon sequestration.
Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO, said, “The Open Space Institute (OSI) is proud to transfer this land to DEC as an addition that will double the size of Hand Hollow State Forest. We are grateful to work with like-minded partners to protect land that will help improve local water quality and expand recreational opportunities in Columbia County for generations of outdoors enthusiasts.”
Hand Hollow State Forest is managed by DEC for multiple uses, including recreation, timber production, watershed protection, and wildlife habitat. The forest’s recreational opportunities include hiking, biking, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, and photography. It has a number of accessible features that allow people of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy what the area has to offer, including a trail open to motorized use by permit for people with disabilities and an accessible fishing dock at the onsite pond.