Stories

2021 Year in Review: Improving Parks & Making the Outdoors More Welcoming

Photo Credit: Greg Miller

Before year’s end, OSI anticipates the addition of more than 25,000 acres to state and national parks and forests in Georgia, South Carolina, and New York.

In the Southeast, OSI secured a new addition to South Carolina’s Congaree National Park, including a scenic, two-mile stretch of a treasured paddling creek; safeguarded five properties, totaling 1,800 acres, to nearly double the amount of public hunting land in the Saluda River Basin’s Belfast Wildlife Management Area; and expanded protection of Tennessee’s iconic Fiery Gizzard Trail.

Meanwhile, OSI and its partners are continuing to build on decades-long conservation efforts to connect six state parks and 93,000 acres of protected lands in New York’s Western Hudson Highlands, just an hour’s drive north of New York City. The effort gained momentum with OSI’s acquisition of the Leone property, which created a long-sought trail connection between Schunnemunk Mountain State Park and Black Rock Forest.

The Black River Water Trail & Park Network is inviting public input in order to meet the access and recreational needs of communities along the river. Visit OSI's Story Map online: openspaceinstitute.org/blackriver
The Black River Water Trail & Park Network is inviting public input in order to meet the access and recreational needs of communities along the river. Visit OSI's Story Map online: openspaceinstitute.org/blackriver
Photo Credit: Erin Pate, Black River Cypress Preserve

Elsewhere in New York, OSI unveiled the completed Adirondac Upper Works project to improve public access in the Adirondacks. The project not only creates an enhanced entrance to many popular High Peaks Wilderness Area trails, it also provides easy access to a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing — while featuring interpretive panels about the area’s unique role in Presidential history.

OSI also returned to Fahnestock, the state park it has doubled in size over thirty years, to create new trail access in the heart of the park; and, for the fourth consecutive, construct new pedestrian bridges with the help of talented engineering cadets from the nearby West Point Military Academy. Just a half-mile from Fahnestock, another OSI-acquired property adjacent to the Appalachian Trail will offer a new entrance point to the celebrated trail as it grows in popularity.

At Breakneck Ridge, often cited as “the most popular day hike in America,” a critical OSI acquisition sets the stage for the construction of a new trailhead that will relieve traffic congestion at the start of the trail, create safe parking, and protect the region’s striking and scenic views. And at Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, land previously protected by OSI is now home to the East Gate Plaza, a new amenity that improves public access and community engagement opportunities for the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.

And OSI continued to build upon its legacy in Ulster County, New York, where it began improvements on a 3.5-mile section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz, and protected the Shawanga Lodge property — a property once slated for a casino resort, that is now to be added to state forests along the Shawangunk Ridge.

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