Posts Tagged ‘Minnewaska State Park Preserve’

Little Stony Kill Falls

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.

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The Rondout Valley: The Last Best-Kept Secret

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NorthJersey.com, link to original post
by Daniel Chazin

LENGTH: About two miles.
TIME: About 1 1/2 hours.
MAP: New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Shawangunk Trails Map No. 105; Minnewaska State Park Preserve map.
DOGS: Permitted on leash.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (New Paltz). After paying the toll, turn left onto Route 299 and continue west through the Village of New Paltz. When you cross the bridge over the Wallkill River at the west end of the village, continue ahead on Route 299 (do not turn right toward the Mohonk Mountain House). In another 5.6 miles (from the Wallkill River bridge), Route 299 ends at a T intersection with Route 44/55. Turn right here and follow Route 44/55 as it negotiates a very sharp hairpin turn and climbs to pass under the Trapps Bridge (a steel overpass). Continue for about two miles past the Trapps Bridge to the entrance to the Peters Kill area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, on the right side of the road (an $8 parking fee is charged at the gatehouse).

From a kiosk at the western end of the lower parking area, follow a wide path, covered with wood chips, which heads north, soon becoming a gravel road. At the top of a rise, a triple-white blaze on a tree to the right marks the start of the Bullwheel Trail. Turn right onto this trail, which climbs gradually on an old carriage road. After passing a trail sign on the left, the road becomes rocky and eroded, and it gradually narrows to a footpath.

At the crest of the rise, the trail passes a concrete slab, with steel bolts protruding. A tower that was anchored to the slab via the bolts once supported a pulley for a ski lift – part of the Ski Minne downhill ski area, which operated from 1964 to 1978. The pulley is commonly referred to as a “bullwheel” – hence the name for the trail.

The trail levels off and descends a little, with the cliffs of Dickie Barre on the left, and it soon ends at a junction with the blue-blazed High Peters Kill Trail. Turn left onto this trail, which climbs briefly to cut through a notch in Dickie Barre (notice the tilted blocks of conglomerate rock on the left), then begins a long, gradual descent through blueberry bushes to the Peters Kill.

About halfway down, the trail emerges on exposed rock ledges, with pitch pines growing from the bedrock, and bears right. Before continuing ahead, you should bear left and cross the ledges to reach a dramatic viewpoint from the edge of the cliffs, with the Catskills visible in the distance to the right. Then return to the trail, which descends more steeply for a short distance. The grade soon moderates, and the trail runs close to the edge of the escarpment, with sheer drops on the left.

At the base of the descent, just before reaching the Peters Kill, turn left onto a yellow-blazed trail (at a sign “to Peters Kill parking lot”). The trail parallels the picturesque stream amid hemlocks, rhododendron and mountain laurel. After passing an interesting cascade, the Yellow Trail bears left, away from the stream, and it soon ends at a sign for the Red Trail.

Turn left onto the Red Trail, but in only 20 feet turn right and follow the red blazes parallel to the stream. This trail section is even more scenic than the previous one, as you pass numerous cascades and flumes in the stream.

After reaching a small waterfall and a pool on the right, the Red Trail bears left, leaving the stream, and climbs back toward Route 44/55. This section of the trail has recently been rerouted, and the blazing may not be complete, although the trail route is clear and obvious. At the top of the climb, the trail turns left and follows an old road through fields back to the parking area where the hike began.

“Hiking” is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The trail conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains over 1,700 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books, including a three-map set for Shawangunk Trails ($10.95), “Scenes and Walks in the Northern Shawangunks,” by Jack Fagan ($13.95), and the “New York Walk Book” ($22.95). The Trail Conference’s office is at 156 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah; (201) 512-9348; nynjtc.org; HikeoftheWeek@aol.com.

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By Tod Westlake, Shawangunk Journal, link to original post

Now that the Colony Farm in Kerhonkson is no longer in operation, Wawarsing resident John Adams feels that it might serve as a bridge that would effectively join Minnewaska State Park Preserve to the Vernooy Kill State Forest. To that end, Adams, along with members of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, took part in a hike this past Sunday (June 13, 2010) in order to highlight and promote this idea. Adams, who was recently appointed to the Environment and Conservation Commission for the Town of Wawarsing, feels that the expansion of trails in the Wawarsing area would give hikers and bikers a reason to come to Wawarsing, thereby enhancing tourism in the area.

“We’d like to show people that the Colony Farm land is a potential trail,” Adams said. “Now that the prison no longer uses it, and the inmates are not out here and security isn’t an issue any more, it’s state-owned land that could be made available for recreation.”

The Colony Farm had in recent years served as a dairy farm at which inmates from the Eastern Correctional Facility would work. But the state canceled this program last year and the farm has since been leased out. Given the farm’s location and overall footprint, it could act as a kind of final piece to a larger jigsaw puzzle which could ultimately interlock a number of adjacent, protected lands. “We think it would be helpful in bringing tourists to our town,” Adams says about the farm’s potential.

Adams says that, with the addition of a trail from the Vernooy Kill State Forest, this would create a “loop” that would hookup with other trails and logging roads in the area thereby creating a circular path.

In addition to the trails, Adams wants to see the farmland preserved as open space. Adams says that he has been in touch with at least one organization that specializes in the preservation of open spaces, and that he may turn to this type of organization when it comes to surveying the land.

Adams also says that the Town of Wawarsing Environment and Conservation Commission on which he serves had recently drafted a letter to the Wawarsing Town Board urging town elected officials to endorse the project and to send a letter to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requesting that the DEC’s master plan for the area include such a trail.

At the moment, according to Adams, the land is zoned as “rural” but this designation could be changed to “planned industrial” which would turn the land over to light industry. It’s all up to the town board and the planning board to decide on the fate of the property.

“Even though it’s zoned rural, it sounds like it’s protected, but it’s really not,” he says.

Adams also says that at the county level there is currently no protection for the land.

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Minnewaska State Park Preserve is now offering a multiuse trail map for sale of the main trail systems in its 20,000 acres. The waterproof maps are printed on Tyvek and feature a topographic layout of the trails and terrain at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

The map side highlights the entrances and main areas of the park and the activities permitted in each area, including portions of Mohonk Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve. The opposite side includes information on the unique geology and ecology of Minnewaska and the cultural history of the Shawangunk Ridge and surrounding hamlets.

Trail maps are available for $4 at the Peter’s Kill Park Office on Route 44/55, the gatehouses and the Nature Center during open hours. For more information, call the park office at 845-255-0752.

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Latest acquisition brings nature preserve to approximately 5,700 acres

Working steadily over the years, the Open Space Institute (OSI) is gradually assembling one of the largest nature preserves in the Hudson River Valley on the highest reaches of the Shawangunk Ridge. The Sam’s Point Preserve, as it is now known, is a globally unique ecosystem that protects thousands of acres of pristine ridge-top land and pumps vital tourist dollars into local economies every year.

Earlier this month, OSI acquired 35 additional acres of undeveloped mountainous land on the eastern side of the ridge, as the conservation group chips away at its goal of a 7,500-acre Sam’s Point Preserve. Consisting of two separate purchases from two of the preserve’s neighbors, the parcels protect the headwaters of the Verkeederkill Stream and the eastern escarpment of the Ridge as it looks out over the town of Shawangunk.

Tens of thousands of people visit the Sam’s Point Preserve each year for a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting and other pursuits. The recent acquisitions will protect scenic views from the hiking trail to Verkeederkill Falls, and contain extensive rock-walled crevices, slabrock and pitch pines. OSI will eventually add the land to the adjacent Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, made the acquisitions with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.

“The big picture here is that we started assembling the Sam’s Point Preserve in 1991, and over the years, and through ten subsequent acquisitions, it’s grown to about 5,700 acres,” said Joe Martens, OSI’s president. “We’ve kept adding to it over the years, and we think in the next 15 to 20 years this is going to be one of the flagship preserves of the Hudson River Valley.”

After conserving a handful of smaller, adjacent parcels in the early 1990s, OSI officially created the Sam’s Point Preserve in 1997 with a breakthrough purchase of 4,780 acres from the Village of Ellenville. Formerly known as Ice Caves Mountain, the area had been owned by the village and used for a variety of purposes for almost a century. It was named one of the “75 Great Places in the Western Hemisphere” by The Nature Conservancy, which partnered with OSI on the Ellenville acquisition and helps manage the properties today as a publicly-supported nature preserve.

The OSI purchases have protected Sam’s Point, the highest summit in the Shawangunks; Indian Rock; deep, glaciated ice caves; the Verkeederkill Stream; and an immense, globally rare pitch pine barrens. OSI anticipates that it will be able to purchase enough adjacent land from willing sellers over the next two decades to bring the preserve to as much as 7,500 acres, protecting important plant and animal habitat and increasing access for recreation in the Shawangunks.

In 2007 OSI transferred a 4,000-acre portion of Sam’s Point, consisting of rare dwarf pitch pine barrens, stark quartz cliffs and underground ice caves, to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This property had been off the tax rolls for nearly a century as village-held watershed land, but with the transfer to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York State is now paying local real property taxes to the Village of Ellenville, Ellenville Central school district, and other local taxing jurisdictions.

In addition to its rare ecological features, Sam’s Point is flanked by tens of thousands of acres of conserved land—Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Mohonk Preserve to the north, and several thousands of acres of state forest preserve land stretching along the spine of the Shawangunk Ridge as it winds its way through Sullivan and Orange counties to the New Jersey border near Port Jervis.

“The protection of the Shawangunk Ridge is one of OSI’s core programs, along with the protection of the Adirondack Mountains, Catskill Mountains and other important jewels in and around the Hudson River Valley and the Capitol District,” Martens said. “It is a strikingly pretty and ecologically important landscape which hopefully will be enjoyed by the residents of the Hudson River Valley for many generations.”

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 100,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.7 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. Please visit www.osiny.org for more information.

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