NEW LEBANON, NY (Sep. 14, 2016)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the preservation of two woodland properties that will contribute to the protection of local water quality and expand recreational opportunities in Columbia County. Adjacent to Hand Hollow State Forest, the properties will double the size of the state forest once they are eventually conveyed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The properties, 447-acre Novotny-Dreyfus and 76-acre Yauch—acquired by OSI for $1.76 million and $312,800, respectively—contain an extensive trail network running through forestland and meadows, and past ponds, streams and wetlands. Both top regional DEC acquisition priorities, the preservation of the properties will also protect regional ecological habitat and watershed quality.
The two acquired properties straddle the Housatonic and the Middle Hudson watersheds. Together, with the Columbia Land Conservancy’s (CLC’s) Hand Hollow Public Conservation Area—a private property under conservation easement with CLC—and the Hand Hollow State Forest, they create a regional conservation assemblage totaling more than 1,400 acres.
“OSI is proud to continue our commitment to Columbia County through our two newest acquisitions,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “Over forty years, OSI has protected nearly 3,800 acres in Columbia County and over 23,000 acres in the Capital District at large, safeguarding wildlife and watershed lands and enhancing recreation for generations of outdoors enthusiasts.”
“The acquisition of additional lands adjacent to Hand Hollow State Forest is another in a long series of conservation accomplishments by our partners, the Open Space Institute and the Columbia County Land Conservancy,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Governor Cuomo’s historic increase of the State’s Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million annually is enabling DEC to acquire more open space resources. We will work with OSI to convey these parcels to double the size of Hand Hollow State Forest, which will provide exciting new outdoor recreational opportunities.”
“We are very grateful to OSI and to these landowners for their commitment to conserving these exceptionally valuable forest lands,” said Peter Paden, Executive Director of the Columbia Land Conservancy. “These properties are part of an extensive and ecologically important forest system, and their inclusion in the State forest holdings is a major conservation achievement.”
Established in 2014, the Hand Hollow State Forest currently consists of 518 acres with unofficial trails for hiking, biking, paddling and other outdoor activities. The State forest includes a 10-acre lake on the southern portion of the property called Spiegelberg Lake, whose shore is shared with the 433-acre Hand Hollow Conservation Area, owned by the Columbia Land Conservancy.
The protection of Yauch and Novotny-Dreyfus builds on OSI’s long track record of conservation in Columbia County, including the protection of the Kinderhook Corridor and the creation of two preserves, Greenport and Ooms, in partnership with the Columbia Land Conservancy.
Looking ahead, OSI will hold onto the property until DEC acquires it within the coming years.