NEW YORK, NY, October 27, 2008 — This morning the Open Space Institute announced two recent acquisitions on the Shawangunk Ridge which will protect over 254 acres of mountainous land in the towns of Wawarsing and Mamakating, in Ulster and Sullivan counties.
In March of this year, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy (OSC), acquired approximately 95 acres of land on the western escarpment of the Shawangunk Ridge near Stony Kill Falls. The parcel, located off of Rock Haven Road in Wawarsing, is adjacent to the 21,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve, and protects a scenic stretch of the Stony Kill stream as well as cliffs, talus, pitch pine barrens and majestic hemlock forests having extensive views of the Catskills and the Rondout Valley. It will be conveyed to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) as an addition to Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
On September 8, OSC also acquired 146 acres of ecologically important land on the western side of the Shawangunk Ridge in Wawarsing and Mamakating in Ulster and Sullivan counties. These two parcels are located east of Route 209 and south of Route 52 and protect the long rocky spine of the Shawangunk Ridge as it heads south through Sullivan and Orange Counties to the New Jersey border, where the Shawangunk Ridge is locally known as the Kittatinny Mountains. The parcels are adjacent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Shawangunk Ridge and Wurtsboro Ridge state forests.
“The acquisition of these two important properties will prevent inappropriate residential development on highly visible and remote sections of the ridge,” said Joe Martens, OSI’s president. “These properties will also remain on the tax rolls and provide much-needed tax revenue to the towns of Wawarsing and Mamakating.”
Martens also noted that the parcels would be priority acquisitions for New York State, and would be made available to the general public for recreational use.
Both acquisitions are part of on-going effort over the last 22 years by OSI to protect the Shawangunk Ridge, a recreational mecca for the Hudson River Valley and the greater region. Between the 21,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the 6,800-acre Mohonk Preserve, and thousands of acres of state forest land managed as the Shawangunk Ridge, Roosa Gap, Wurtsboro Ridge and Huckleberry Ridge state forests, OSI and its partners are securing a 50-mile long “greenbelt” that runs all the way from Rosendale, in Ulster County, to Port Jervis on the New York New Jersey border.
The Shawangunk Mountains are home to a globally unique ecosystem. Its alpine environment features one of the largest pitch pine barrens in the world, as well as the largest intact chestnut oak forest in New York State. The ridge’s 50-mile span is a major east coast flyway for migratory birds, and its forests are habitat for bobcats, black bears, timber rattlesnakes and more than 200 species of nesting birds.
The two parcels were acquired for a total of $415,000, using funding from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.
OSI has protected over 26,000 acres of land on the Shawangunk Ridge over the last 22 years, and continues to secure lands along the spine of the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties and, as part of its “Two Valleys” campaign, to protect important farmland in the Rondout and Walkill valleys on each side of the Ridge.