OSI Protects 186 Acres on Overlook Mountain: Adding to an Impressive Assemblage of Previously Conserved Lands

NEW YORK, NY — December 22, 2008 — Adding to an already-impressive assemblage of conserved land, the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced today the protection of 186 acres on Overlook Mountain in the town of Woodstock.

The acquisition is OSI’s fifth on Overlook Mountain in the last five years, with a total of 569 acres preserved to date. This parcel—known locally as the California Quarry property—adjoins already-protected state land on three sides, and will be conveyed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for management as part of the Catskill Forest Preserve.

Once the property is conveyed to the state, OSI will have doubled the amount of state-protected land on Overlook Mountain—preserving more of its panoramic views, which inspired the famous Hudson River School of painting in the 19th century.

“The California Quarry property hosts one of the most spectacular views this side of the Rocky Mountains, with its panoramic vistas of the southern Catskills to the west, the Berkshires and the Hudson River to the east, and the Ashokan Reservoir to the south and the Shawangunks beyond,” said Jeff Moran, Woodstock town supervisor.

“The purchase of the town’s property on Overlook Mountain is mutually beneficial on several important fronts,” said Jennifer Grossman, OSI’s vice president for land acquisition. “To the people of Woodstock, it returns an important, almost 200-acre parcel to the tax base. For the state of New York, it expands an historic and environmentally sensitive area of the Catskill Forest Preserve. And for all visitors to the Catskill region, it provides unfettered, far-reaching views of the Hudson River Valley and increased recreational opportunities for people of all ages.”

OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired the property with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.

The California Quarry property sits on the southeastern slope of Overlook Mountain, in an area the state has targeted for conservation because its alpine ecosystem is considered susceptible to inappropriate residential development. There is an active quarry on the parcel that the town of Woodstock will retain access to for local use.

Once conveyed to the state and open to the public, the site will provide expanded recreational opportunities and incredible views of the Catskills, Hudson River Valley and parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. For hikers, it represents an easier climb than the steep hike to the top of Overlook Mountain but is one that concludes with similarly spectacular views.

Visitors to the Catskills, numbering more than a million a year, will all benefit from the additional recreational acreage, said Kevin Smith, president of the Woodstock Land Conservancy, which partnered with OSI on the acquisition.

“The Conservancy is delighted that California Quarry will now be permanently protected from development, and that this amazing vantage point on Overlook will be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike as part of the Overlook Mountain Wild Forest,” he said. “We deeply appreciate the steadfast efforts of the Open Space Institute, Bill Rudge and DEC, Supervisor Moran, Town Board member Simonson and other town officials past and present who worked to make this a reality for our community and visitors to the Catskills.”

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