Man Biking on Ashokan Rail Trail

Year in Review 2023: Land for Recreation

OSI understands the vital role trails, greenways, parks, and open spaces can play in promoting physical health and mental well-being, promoting off-road transportation, fostering community bonds, improving local economies, and so much more.

OSI’s trails work continues to take center stage with the unveiling of its bold Growing Greenways plan to create, improve, and connect eight multi-use trails across New York’s Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange Counties, broadening the horizons for regional recreation. This long-term initiative will create a primarily off-road trail network spanning more than 250 miles, connecting dozens of communities, boosting economic activity and tourism, expanding non-motorized transportation options, and advancing equitable access to the outdoors for rural and urban communities—and everywhere in between.

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Enjoying an autumn walk on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New York, where OSI has made significant structural enhancements.
Image Credit: William Amos

After announcing the Growing Greenways initiative, OSI quickly notched several early wins, including the restoration of a critical portion of Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s High Point Carriage Road, officially re-opening nearly three miles of the historic carriage road network. This marks more than fifteen miles of the park’s Victorian-era carriage roads restored by OSI. OSI also completed improvements to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail as well as projects to augment the O&W Rail Trail, which will form a 57-mile greenway serving as the backbone of the Growing Greenways plan. By October, a significant portion of the O&W rail corridor had been protected for public use, furthering OSI’s vision of an interconnected, multiuse trail network.

Also in Ulster County, OSI acquired 90 acres of land for the creation of a multi-use community trail. This acquisition, supported by the newly established Marbletown Community Preservation Fund, will create local outdoor recreation opportunities while protecting significant wildlife habitat. Nearby, along the Shawangunk Ridge, OSI also conserved land renowned as one of the best hang-gliding locations on the East Coast.

Further south in the Hudson Valley, OSI collaborated with the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point on a Cadet-led project to develop and construct a new pedestrian bridge at Orange County’s Schunnemunk State Park to enhance park accessibility—the sixth such collaboration between OSI and the USMA. At Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Putnam County, a landscape in which OSI has worked for more than two decades, OSI is working on streambank stabilization and a new pedestrian bridge along the Hubbard Perkins Loop Trail, which OSI restored in 2022.

OSI also excelled in rehabilitation and improvement projects at MacNaughton Cottage in the Adirondacks. With continued support, OSI envisions the Upper Works Trailhead, where MacNaughton Cottage is located, as a welcoming access point into the High Peaks Wilderness Area that will help orient and disperse visitors, helping to better protect the region’s trails and precious natural resources.

Birds flying over the Boonton Reservoir
Despite its location in urbanized New Jersey, the Boonton Reservoir is a haven for birds and other wildlife.
Image Credit: Tony Turner

OSI continues to mobilize funding for critically important parks and trails projects. After four years of planning, OSI’s grant writing expertise helped secure $600,000 in federal funding for the New Jersey Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project, advancing a long-sought goal to make the land around the reservoir publicly accessible to Morris County’s 500,000 residents.

In the Southeast, OSI helped create Ingleside Park, a much-needed 445-acre urban oasis in a bustling section of North Charleston, South Carolina.

Also in South Carolina, OSI helped establish a new 500-acre park to create public access for a celebrated, multi-county paddling trail along the scenic Lynches River, and celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, a vast 37,000-acre property that has been greatly expanded over the years thanks in part to OSI.

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Year in Review 2023: Land for Habitat

Each year, OSI’s land protection work delivers multiple, overlapping benefits, making a difference to all who visit or live in these beloved landscapes.