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Year-in-Review 2019: Improving Parks and Increasing Access

Through land conservation and park improvement projects, OSI continues to create new opportunities to enjoy parks and the great outdoors.

This year, OSI redoubled its four-decade commitment to Minnewaska, the celebrated state park just 90 minutes north of New York City, on a grand scale. Seeing a new need to support the park, which is visited by half a million people each year, OSI produced a video showcasing the beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge — to raise funds for a sorely-needed visitor center. Capping it off, OSI unveiled its improvements to the Smiley Carriage Road with another video exploring the refurbished trail.

Just to the east of Minnewaska, OSI’s popular River-to-Ridge Trail celebrated one year in operation. To honor the trail — which has already welcomed a whopping 100,000 visitors — and to celebrate the opening of its final leg, OSI hosted schoolchildren on the trail as they participated in a Monarch butterfly tag and release initiative. 

All told, OSI added more than 8,500 acres to 10 New York State parks and forests — while creating one entirely new State Forest Unit, Hand Hollow State Forest. Included on the list of expanded parks and forests is Bluestone Wild Forest, where OSI added a new bike trail before transfer to the state; Hammond Pond Wild Forest; Harriman State Park; Minnewaska State Park Preserve; and Schunnemunk State Park. At its historic Tahawus property in the Adirondacks, OSI announced a $1 million capital improvement plan to improve southern access to the Adirondack High Peaks.

For the second year, OSI commissioned a class of West Point cadets to create a bridge at Fahnestock State Park.
For the second year, OSI commissioned a class of West Point cadets to create a bridge at Fahnestock State Park.
Photo Credit: Maria Garcia, OSI

Again this year, OSI commissioned a civil engineering class of West Point cadets to create a trail bridge at Fahnestock State Park. The project is the latest OSI effort at Fahnestock, which OSI has more than doubled since the 1990s. At the same time, OSI is spearheading projects to improve trails, trailheads, and signage.

Focusing on South Carolina, OSI’s efforts to protect local waterways continues to gain momentum. Building on more than 15,000 acres already conserved in the Palmetto State, OSI’s successes there this year included the preservation of a popular paddling route near Congaree National Park and the expansion of Rocky Point Community Forest along the scenic Black River.

Looking beyond to the greater South, OSI’s impact continues to grow acre by acre. A highlight was nearly doubling the size of the Piney Falls State Natural Area — which connects to the famous, long-distance Cumberland Trail in Tennessee.

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