Protection of the land also helps buffer the entrance to the 3,660-acre, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation-managed Vernooy Kill State Forest. The Vernooy Kill State Forest is located immediately outside the Catskill Park “Blue Line” boundary, and abuts the Sundown Wild Forest within the Park.
“With the conservation of this property we are another step closer to making it possible to hike directly from the Shawangunk Ridge to the storied Catskills on protected land,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “The permanent protection of this beautiful property will expand quality recreational access and underscores the long-term benefits of strategic land conservation. We thank the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for its continued commitment to protecting land for the citizens of New York.”
“DEC is proud to partner with the Open Space Institute to preserve and protect this special corner of New York,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Conserving this spectacular 33-acre property in the Vernooy Kill State Forest, with its famed waterfalls and swimming holes, will connect future generations of hikers, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to the historic Catskill Mountains and ensure our children’s children have the opportunity to explore and experience its natural beauty.”
Protecting these recreational opportunities for the community of Wawarsing and beyond will also enhance Ulster County’s recreation economy, which contributes to 30,000 tourism-related jobs in the county.
Six miles of the Vernooy Kill, the largest undammed tributary of the Rondout Creek and the only major undeveloped stream in the region, run through the existing state forest. Expanding the protection of the Vernooy Kill State Forest will ensure fishing access along the length of the creek.
The newly-secured property also includes a ¾-mile section of the Long Path, which begins in Fort Lee, NJ, and continues 357 miles to John Boyd Thacher State Park near Albany.
The 33-acre property sits at the entrance of the Lundy Estate, a 5,400-acre property conserved by OSI and The Trust for Public Land in 2000. Nearly developed into a theme park, the Estate’s conservation was heralded as one of the most significant additions to the Catskills since creation of the Catskill Forest Preserve in the 1880s. Today, the grounds of the former Lundy Estate are part of Vernooy Kill State Forest and the Sundown Wild Forest.
Looking ahead, OSI will own the property until the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) acquires it as an addition to the Vernooy Kill State Forest.