Long-term strategic trail connectivity plan advances conservation, outdoor recreation, and economic opportunities of fast-growing, eastern Orange County.
Created by OSI, in partnership with the Orange County Land Trust (OCLT) and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC), the Highlands West Trail Connectivity Plan highlights a range of opportunities to permanently protect and enhance the landscape, working toward the creation of a connected, regional trail network that will provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, protect critical wildlife habitat, and safeguard local watersheds.
Four major long-distance trails converge in the western Hudson Highlands—the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Highlands Trail, and Orange County Heritage Trail—and serve as the basis and inspiration for this expanded and enhanced network.
On May 4, 2021, the Open Space Institute and Black Rock Forest co-hosted a discussion on the history and future of land use in the Hudson Highlands. Speakers included: (1) Kim Elliman, OSI's President & CEO; (2) Lucy R. Waletzky, Chair of the New York State Council of Parks; (3) Bill Schuster, Black Rock Forest Executive Director; and (4) Erik Kulleseid, New York State Parks Commissioner. View the video below or on YouTube here.
The plan establishes a regional vision for recreation, conservation, and local economic development, and proposes 21 projects. Proposed projects include new trail creation, realignment and safety improvements for existing trails, planning for new park and trail areas to help reduce crowding at some of the more popular state parks in the area, and trailhead improvements at existing parks to better welcome and direct visitors.
The Highlands West Trail Connectivity Plan
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