Orange County, NY (March 15, 2022)-The Open Space Institute (OSI) joined New York Governor Kathy Hochul in announcing the addition of more than 200 acres of OSI-protected property to two state parks in the Hudson Valley, ensuring the permanent conservation of significant blocks of contiguous forest land. The new state parkland includes 179 acres at Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County; and a 33-acre property that will protect and provide better access to the Appalachian Trail and nearby Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Putnam County.
"From creating Schunnemunk Mountain State Park and working with NYS to grow this 3,300-acre hiking mecca, to improving public access in and around Fahnestock State Park and the Appalachian Trail, OSI's work is making parks and protected land more available and welcoming for all who visit to explore and enjoy these spectacular landscapes,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Hochul and Commissioner Kulleseid, local partners, and the cooperation of private lands owners, OSI's is continuing our long history of leveraging partnerships to further the ecological and recreational connectivity of some of the state's most popular and scenic outdoor destinations."
"One of my favorite pastimes is exploring the different activities and stunning views at our state parks, and with this expansion we will have even more beautiful views and trails for New Yorkers to experience," said Governor Hochul. "Preserving open space and expanding our parks also helps to protect the environment, create new access for outdoor recreation, and boosts the local economy. Our State Parks are some of New York's greatest natural treasures - and I'm excited to expand access to the great outdoors for future generations."
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "These acquisitions continue New York State's vital work to protect open space and expand interconnected trail networks within the majestic Hudson Highlands. I'm thankful to Governor Hochul and our conservation partners for their dedication to creating much-needed parkland and protecting our environment."
Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird said, "This new addition to Schunnemunk State Park helps protect important watershed lands along the Moodna Creek and expands critical wildlife habitat. It also creates added connectivity for our network of parks in the Hudson Highlands, which is good for visitors and wildlife. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission is grateful to Governor Hochul, State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid and the Open Space Institute for their leadership and efforts that made this acquisition possible."
OSI transferred the 179-acre “Leone” property in the town of Cornwall to New York State Parks that will expand trail connections and protect a major Orange County watershed containing significant wildlife habitat. The property will serve as part of a future critical trail connection between Schunnemunk State Park, the not-for-profit Black Rock Forest, and Storm King State Park. Longer-term plans for a rail trail by Orange County would allow that trail connection to extend further south to Goosepond State Park. Almost completely forested, the newly acquired State land includes a significant portion of wetlands within the Moodna Creek, which Orange County identifies as a critical watershed. The property also presents an opportunity to re-route a portion of the proposed Highlands Trail to an off-road location, creating safer conditions for walkers, hikers, runners, and bikers to safely enjoy these protected lands; reducing human-wildlife conflict; and supporting local, nature-based tourism.
The 33-acre “Canopus Hollow” property, adjacent to the Appalachian Trail, was transferred from OSI to New York State Parks as an addition to Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park. The property provides a crucial buffer to the historic Appalachian Trail from future residential development and safeguards the area's natural resources for wildlife habitat. The land features an old farm road which has the potential to provide safe, off-road parking and a new trailhead, offering hikers, runners and cyclists a new entrance point into Fahnestock State Park and the Appalachian Trail.
State Parks partnered Open Space Institute to protect the lands using funding from the state's Environmental Protection Fund.