WOODBURY, NY (Nov. 20, 2019) — Building on a 40-year commitment to land conservation in the Hudson Highlands, the Open Space Institute (OSI) is celebrating the addition of scenic property to popular Schunnemunk State Park. Located in fast-growing Orange County, the land is the largest tract of open space within a planned conservation corridor linking Schunnemunk to Black Rock Forest.
Once targeted for a subdivision before its acquisition by OSI in 2013, the “Legacy Ridge” parcel spans 706 acres; OSI transferred 688 acres of the original property to New York State, while donating the remaining 18 acres to the Village of Woodbury for wellhead protection. With the property now owned by State Parks, OSI will develop a plan and carry out management of the property for ten years, making updates to include an internal trail network on the property with planned future links to the Long Path, the Highlands Trail, and Schunnemunk State Park.
Since its founding in 1974, OSI has protected more than 38,000 acres in the Highlands West region, creating state parks including Schunnemunk and preserving critical wildlife habitat in Black Rock Forest.
“The Open Space Institute is proud of its instrumental role in securing this land for Schunnemunk State Park, just an hour’s drive from downtown New York City, and prouder still of our longstanding dedication to the region and its residents,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO.
Increasingly surrounded by development, the lands between the 3,800-acre Black Rock Forest and the 3,400-acre Schunnemunk State Park feature mature deciduous forest and high-quality waterways. These resources provide habitat for forest interior birds like the cerulean warbler and wood thrush; mammals like otter and mink; and brook trout.
Since 2010, OSI has been working with partners Black Rock Forest Consortium, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust and the Orange County Land Trust on the “Hudson Highlands Connectivity Project” to protect this critical wildlife corridor. In addition to habitat preservation, the groups’ plan will provide important links for recreation and preserve scenic viewsheds for the public to enjoy.
The Legacy Ridge property builds on several successful OSI projects within the Hudson Highlands Connectivity Project target area. In 2014, OSI secured the Hudson Highlands' largest-ever conservation easement on Black Rock Forest, then donated the easement to the State of New York. The donation guaranteed public access to nearly 60 miles of hiking trails on Black Rock Forest, while funding an endowment to acquire adjacent buffer lands that will connect to Schunnemunk State Park.