News

Shawangunk Ridge family legacy preserves unique ecosystem and terrain

NEW YORK, NY — October 8, 2014 — Seventy-five acres of rugged, undeveloped property bordering Minnewaska State Park Preserve has been acquired by the Open Space Institute. The property, which had been owned for decades by the Schneller family, is located on the southeastern boundary of the Sam’s Point section of the preserve.

Preservation of the land will ensure protection of the vast, globally-rare pitch pine barrens that occur at Sam’s Point as well as a stretch of the Verkeederkill stream, which drains the eastern escarpment of the Shawangunk Ridge.  

OSI’s purchase of the property represents an ongoing commitment to preserving the Shawangunk Ridge and supporting the popular and stunningly beautiful state park. Over its 40-year history, through 40 individual transactions, OSI’s has doubled the size of Minnewaska, adding 13,000 acres to the 22,000-acre park. The two OSI-acquired properties are expected to be added to Minnewaska State Park in the next several years.

“These acquisitions build on OSI’s decades of success in preserving the spectacular natural features of the Shawangunk Ridge, protecting its environmental resources and building Minnewaska State Park,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “We are grateful to our partners in the community with whom we work and, in particular, to the Schneller family who have been terrific stewards of these properties and whose dedication to the land will be appreciated for generations to come.”

“Many thanks to OSI for their ongoing commitment to preserving the unique ecosystems and terrain along the Shawangunk Ridge,” said Jim Hall, executive director of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission. “I also congratulate the Schneller family for the special legacy they are supporting through the sale of this land to OSI.”

The Schneller property had been in the family since the 1970s, when it was purchased by Alfred Schneller, a World War II veteran who became a Conservation Officer for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Ever a conservationist, it was the late Alfred Schneller’s wish that the land become part of a larger protected area for the public to enjoy.

In selling this family property to OSI, Alfred Schneller’s daughter Karen Schneller-McDonald, shared how deeply connected her family is to the rugged landscape, its fauna and plant life. As such, she noted how important it was for the family to honor her father’s request to preserve the property. “We hold land in trust. It’s left in our care for a time and then we pass it along to the next guardian. My sister and I honor our family’s legacy. With gratitude, we pass it on to the future.”

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