The Open Space Institute announced today the acquisition of a stunning 233-acre parcel that protects one of the last major waterfalls in private ownership in the Shawangunks, known locally as Little Stony Kill Falls or Nonkanawha Falls.
The property also provides land for new trailheads that will service thousands of acres at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
The parcel was acquired by the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, from the Ukrainian National Association (UNA), a Ukrainian fraternal organization which since 1953 has operated a center known as Soyuzivka Heritage Center on approximately 130 acres of land it is retaining in the town of Kerhonkson, Ulster County.
The center caters to the rich ethnic traditions and unique customs of the Ukrainian people. For almost 60 years guests have enjoyed the scenic lands just acquired by OSI, which include a rushing mountain stream known as the Little Stony Kill, the 75-foot-tall Nonkanawha Falls, hiking trails and extensive views of the Catskills and Shawangunk Mountains.
“The transfer of these scenic lands to the Open Space Institute neatly fulfills the common goals of two very diverse organizations,” said Stefan Kaczaraj, president of UNA. “From Open Space’s point of view, this environmentally sensitive tract will be preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of the general public and passive recreational opportunities will be expanded.
“At the same time, Soyuzivka will continue its 60-year legacy of preserving Ukrainian heritage and customs on its remaining 130-plus acres and our guests will continue to enjoy the hiking trails and these stunning lands as they did in the past.”
Over the past quarter-century OSI has acquired and protected over 27,000 acres of land on and around the Shawangunk Ridge, stretching from the town of Rosendale, in Ulster County, south to Port Jervis and the New Jersey border.
The lands acquired from UNA will be conveyed to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) as an addition to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. OSI and its partners have added over 12,000 acres to Minnewaska over the past two decades, making it—at more than 22,000 acres of forested lands and lakes—the largest park preserve in New York State.
“The Open Space Institute has been a wonderful partner for years,” said OPRHP Commissioner Rose Harvey. “The lands that OSI has added to Minnewaska over the years have greatly enhanced visitors’ experience at the Preserve. The acquisition of the spectacular UNA property adds another chapter to the partnership.”
The newly acquired lands protect some of the most scenic and remote portions of the Shawangunk Ridge. OSI has accumulated thousands of acres of wilderness lands on the western side of the ridge, including lands in the remote Witch’s Hole and Mine Hole Hollow. The lands also include the Little Stony Kill stream, which meanders through miles of bedrock and pitch pines.
“Today’s acquisition protects a significant swath of the western escarpment of the Shawangunk Ridge,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “It furthers OSI’s long-term commitment to the preservation of the Shawangunk Ridge and the trails, carriage roads, streams, lakes and stunning vistas that make this one of New York’s most cherished places.”
Lands previously acquired by OSI in the vicinity of the UNA lands include a 1,366-acre tract acquired from another Ukrainian national association, the Shevchenko Scientific Society and other lands owned by local landowners.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships, and analytical research. OSI has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.8 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. Please visit www.osiny.org for more information.