Whitetail deer

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… and 2023 was no exception.

Across the Northeast, OSI’s strategic protection of connected forests resulted in expanded corridors for wildlife habitat in Vermont and New York, in addition to improving public access to the outdoors and protection of climate-resilient lands.

In the face of fast-paced development, OSI remained steadfast in its urgency and determination to save the land that matters the most. In a strategic move, OSI secured 240 acres in Wawarsing, New York, bridging the Catskill Park and Shawangunk Ridge, a corridor that bolsters regional biodiversity and climate resilience.

OSI also supported several Hudson Valley organizations in projects intended to inspire environmental stewardship at the local level. This year, OSI awarded a total of $68,000 for environmental education and equity-focused programs, including a hands-on opportunity for city of Newburgh high school students to complete on-the-ground conservation work by cataloguing plant, amphibian, and reptile species that live near an OSI and Black Rock Forest conservation project.

Newt next to a waterfall
A notophthalmus--better known as a red-spotted newt--is seen enjoying clean, fresh, protected water.

In northern New Jersey, the protection of almost 40 acres at the Millbrook Seeps Preserve will safeguard critical drinking water sources and also protect habitat for diverse and threatened species including bobcats and amphibians.

In South Carolina, OSI’s eight-year endeavor to fully protect Pappas Island reached fruition, by transferring the vital wildlife habitat in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge to National Fish and Wildlife. OSI’s preservation of the 125-acre barrier island protects critically important maritime forest and saltmarsh habitat, in addition to sheltering inland communities against intensifying storms and rising ocean levels.

OSI joined partners to celebrate the expansion of South Carolina’s Wee Tee State Forest, where OSI conserved river frontage and supported habitat protection for more than 100 priority wildlife species of concern. In addition, OSI added more than 50 riverfront acres adjacent to the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in a move that strengthened the landscape of protection surrounding the 37,000-acre refuge.

Finally, in a landmark conservation achievement, OSI supported the expansion of South Carolina’s Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve by more than 600 acres. This expansion, a concerted effort backed by OSI and partners, not only protects vital habitat for hawks, waterfowl, and deer, but also honors the complexity of human history on the land. From ancient Indigenous roots to pivotal Revolutionary and Civil War moments, the now conserved 1,200-acre preserve stands as a testament to OSI’s mission to protect the land for people, for wildlife, forever.

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Next Story From the Field

Year in Review 2023: Strengthening Communities

As we continue to grow an inclusive conservation movement, OSI is committed to strengthening and supporting communities in urban and rural landscapes, and the protection of land that preserves and upholds our nation’s heritage and cultural treasures.