2018 Success Stories: Improve and Expand Places to Play

Improving Parks and Increasing Access

Through our land conservation and support for parks improvements, OSI is creating new opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

For decades, residents of downtown New Paltz, New York, who wanted to explore the nearby Shawangunks were forced to drive — or navigate a narrow and dangerous highway shoulder — to reach the beautiful ridge. That finally changed this year, when OSI opened the much-anticipated River-to-Ridge Trail, connecting New Paltz directly to Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The River-to-Ridge Trail also complements OSI’s ongoing efforts to improve the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

OSI’s ability to execute long-range access projects was also on display in the Adirondacks this year, when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced completion of the first phase of an ambitious Adirondack project, at the site of the former Frontier Town Wild West theme park in North Hudson. The new project, based on a master plan originated by OSI and now partly open, includes new campgrounds for hikers, anglers and equestrians; playgrounds, hiking and horseback trails; and even a brewery. The land is also a short journey from the Tub Mill property, whose five lakes and ponds were all protected by OSI this year.

One of America’s most iconic long-distance hiking trails also got a couple of boosts this year, thanks to OSI. Grant support from OSI led to the protection of nearly 10,000 acres of land along the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of western Maine that are important for cross-border wildlife migration along the US-Canada divide. The Appalachian Trail and a New York State long-distance hiking trail, the Long Path, also received support, when OSI protected land adjacent to Harriman State Park where the trails run.

OSI's acquisition made it possible to relocate the parking area and allowed the state to unveil a series of other improvements.
OSI's acquisition made it possible to relocate the parking area and allowed the state to unveil a series of other improvements.
Photo Credit: Erik Kulleseid

In addition to Harriman State Park, OSI provided some of New York’s parks and preserves with much-needed facelifts. OSI partnered with cadets from the West Point Military Academy to replace an unreliable and unsightly steel plate bridge at Fahnestock State Park; cheered as Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, made possible thanks to an OSI land purchase; and debuted a newly redesigned trail network and parking area at Manitou Point Preserve in Putnam County.

In New York City, Harlem gem Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, which serves more than 3 million people each year, will receive a big boost from OSI. Thanks to an OSI-led fundraising effort, the park’s cultural performance center will be revitalized and renamed in honor of Robert F. Smith, who donated $1 million toward the project.

Meanwhile, OSI continues to spearhead land protection in South Carolina, where we will have conserved almost 3,000 acres by year’s end. Along the Black River, OSI protected land that will host an outdoor education initiative for public schools in the region and enhance public access to one of the most popular canoe and kayak destinations in South Carolina. Along the Ashley River, OSI conserved lands that will provide permanent access to the Ashley River Blue Trail near Charleston, while facilitating one of the largest saltwater restoration projects in state history.

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