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OSI Purchases and Improves Land Within Catskill Park’s Bluestone Wild Forest

Acquisition will increase public access with creation of new trails, wayfinding kiosk, parking area.

Towns of Kingston and Woodstock, NY(Feb. 19, 2019)—Building on four decades of land protection in the Catskill Park, the Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the acquisition of land that will link two previously unconnected sections of the Catskill Park’s Bluestone Wild Forest: Jockey Hill to the east and Onteora Lake to the west. Located ten minutes from the NYS Thruway in Kingston, the acquisition creates regional connectivity of protected lands, and permanently protects a scenic, forested parcel for public enjoyment and recreation.  

In addition to permanently protecting the land, OSI also is creating a 6-mile trail network on the forested property

“OSI is ecstatic to not only protect this critical property, but to also improve the land for public enjoyment. Well maintained and easily accessible trails play an important role in making communities more livable, healthy, and prosperous,” said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO. “This project is part of OSI's ongoing commitment to reinvigorate, repair, and develop trails in and around some of New York’s most popular outdoor destinations.”

“DEC is grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute and the Woodstock Land Conservancy for their efforts to conserve this critical addition to the Bluestone Wild Forest in the Catskill Park,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.  “Realizing the potential for an outstanding trail network in an area so rich in natural and cultural resources that is so close to Kingston is an outstanding achievement that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come.”  

Mountain Biking at Bluestone Wild Forest Addition
Mountain Biking at Bluestone Wild Forest Addition
Photo Credit: Greg Miller

“We are thrilled this acquisition allows for the expansion of Bluestone Wild Forest mountain biking opportunities, linking existing but separate routes together, as well as providing further hiking locales in our area,” said Kevin Smith, Chairperson of Woodstock Land Conservancy. “We have collaborated successfully with OSI on several projects in our area and are greatly appreciative of their passion for the Catskills and recognition of both its extraordinary beauty as well as its importance to locals and tourists alike. We envision that in the future we might link these trails to the Ashokan Rail Trail, realizing an exciting recreational opportunity for many.”

The 208-acre “Bluestone Wild Forest Addition” was purchased by OSI for $650,000 from the Aldulaimi family. Consisting of forested slopes and wetlands, the property includes the northern portion of a high-quality body of water known as Pickerel Pond. Several foot trails wind throughout the terrain and the property has access to and from Morey Hill Road.

OSI, working with the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Tahawus Trails and in coordination with DEC, bicycle advocacy group Fats in the Cats and others, is developing a trail plan to enhance the existing dirt roads and build new trails on the property with minimal impact to the landscape. The trail improvements will also include the construction of a parking area, trailhead, and signage kiosk. 

Once completed, the multi-use trail will be open for hikers, mountain bikers, runners, and walkers; and connect to existing state trails. The gently sloping, family-oriented trails will run alongside bluestone outcroppings, creating another fun and relaxing way to enjoy Bluestone Wild Forest.

“This property is a remarkable asset that will be added to the special trail network and protected land at Bluestone Wild Forest. The trail development will connect the two sections of the park and will turn it into a regional recreational destination and great attraction,” said Bill Denter, owner of Overlook Bikes. “Having grown up in the area, I frequently biked at Bluestone. The protection of the land and these new trails will draw more people, including mountain biking enthusiasts, to the area.”

“DEC is grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute and the Woodstock Land Conservancy for their efforts to conserve this critical addition to the Bluestone Wild Forest in the Catskill Park,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director Kelly Turturro.  “Realizing the potential for an outstanding trail network in an area so rich in natural and cultural resources that is so close to Kingston is an outstanding achievement that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come.” 

“Whether hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and skiing, birding or just the quiet enjoyment of nature, the new trails will quickly become a valued resource for people in the neighborhoods and communities surrounding Bluestone,” said Maxanne Resnick, Executive Director of Woodstock Land Conservancy. Destination-quality trail systems are important components of sustainable, economic development and promote healthy, active lifestyles and communities. Further, we hope in the future a trail connection might be realized between the trails at Onteora Lake and Ulster County’s new Ashokan Rail Trail.”

 “The town of Kingston is glad to see that the land was protected, is being kept in a natural state, and will be available for the public to enjoy,” said the Town Board of Kingston.

The “Bluestone Wild Forest Addition” was listed as one of the most important inholdings in the Onteora Lake region by the Bluestone Wild Forest Land Protection Initiative. OSI’s acquisition of the property also fulfills New York State’s Open Space Plan goal of consolidating Bluestone Wild Forest between Route 28 and Sawkill Road.

Located near several population centers including Kingston and Woodstock, the Bluestone Wild Forest is a popular outdoor recreation destination. The newly protected property figures largely in OSI’s efforts to help relieve pressure on wildly popular trailheads and important summits while also protecting and consolidating significant portions of the Catskill Park.  

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