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Posts Tagged ‘Open Space Institute’

The Open Space Institute has acquired the 702-acre Legacy Ridge parcel in the village of Woodbury in Orange County, adding to the conservation corridor between the Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk State Park that OSI began protecting in 2010.

The Legacy Ridge parcel had previously received preliminary approval for the development of 287 residential lots, but today’s acquisition will prohibit development and ensures it will remain in its natural state.

OSI intends to develop an internal trail network on the property and open it to the public for hiking and other passive recreational uses.

“The benefits of this preservation project are many,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “It will increase public recreational access, which is notable because of the property’s proximity to already-protected public land, and its ecological significance, in terms of furthering our goal to link Black Rock and Schunnemunk as a connected wildlife corridor, is considerable.”

Three years ago, OSI began working to protect a critical but largely privately owned wildlife corridor between the Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk State Park. Through two 2010 acquisitions, OSI protected 185 acres within the corridor, providing roaming ground for wildlife and preserving vitally important connectivity in a region of New York State known for its diverse habitat and clean water quality. The acquisitions protected land that integrated a mosaic of upland, wetland and headwater stream habitats.

The lands between Black Rock and Schunnemunk comprise an important ecological connection for mature forest resources and their resident fauna. These lands, several hundred acres of which are still privately owned, feature 95 percent cover of mature deciduous forest, high-quality waterways, and in recent years have become increasingly surrounded by development.

The Open Space Institute, along with its partners at the Black Rock Forest Consortium, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust and the Orange County Land Trust, have developed the Hudson Highlands Connectivity Project—a unified vision for long-term ecological connectivity in this vital corridor. In addition to habitat preservation, the groups’ plan will provide important links for recreation and preserve scenic viewsheds for the public to enjoy.

“The acquisition of the Legacy Ridge property is a great outcome for the environment and residents of the region,” said Andy Chmar, executive director of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust. “Situated in the heart of the biologically rich, 100-plus square mile core of the western Hudson Highlands between Schunnemunk State Park and the open training area landscapes at West Point, its preservation by OSI benefits the public through continued, unbroken scenic landscapes and future recreational opportunities, and the environment through long-term protection of plant and wildlife species.”

“Orange County Land Trust is delighted to once again have the opportunity to work with such great partners on the continued protection of this important wildlife corridor,” said OCLT Executive Director Jim Delaune. “It is true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and we’ve seen that in this strong conservation partnership. We look forward to exploring future opportunities to protect this region, for both wildlife habitat and scenic value.”

The protection and connection of diverse, natural lands has become critically important in this era of climate change. As wildlife habitat changes due to temperature fluctuations, severe storms and other changes in climate, it is becoming increasingly important to protect places that offer a broad diversity of land features, which will provide species options as they seek to adjust to climactic changes.

The Hudson Highlands, and the Black Rock/Schunnemunk corridor in particular, have earned high marks for their natural diversity.

“The Legacy Ridge property has high ecological value because of its large size, varied topography, and habitats from streams and wetlands to forests and ridgelines,” said William Schuster, the executive director of the Black Rock Forest Consortium, an educational alliance that manages the 3,830-acre Black Rock Forest. “Forest interior birds like the cerulean warbler and wood thrush, mammals like otter and mink, and New York’s state fish, the brook trout, all have better chances of long-term survival when properties like this, bordering other undeveloped lands, are conserved. The conservation of Legacy Ridge also protects the water quality of Trout Brook and connected streams, preserving recreation opportunities and ecosystem health in this part of the Highlands.”

The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and sustain communities. OSI has protected more than 116,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Capital program, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 2.2 million acres from Quebec to Georgia. Please visit www.osiny.org for more information.

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BY STEPHEN WILLIAMS, The Daily Gazette Reporter, link to original post

The Open Space Institute has acquired the historic Marion River canoe carry and 295 surrounding acres in Hamilton County.
There has been concern about preserving access to the canoe carry in recent years, after the owner announced plans to build several homes along Utowana Lake. The acquisition will ensure the carry remains open to the public.
“The potential for development made the Marion River Carry a higher, more immediate priority for conservation,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the private non-profi t land preservation organization.
The OSI is paying $2 million for the land, and hopes it will eventually be acquired by the state to become part of the Forest Preserve, said Katie Petronis, the organization’s land project manager and assistant counsel. “We think that would be the right outcome,” she said.
The purchase includes frontage on Utowana Lake and the roughly half-mile carry, which paddlers have used for more than a century to travel between Utowana Lake and the Marion River, going around rapids. The Marion can then be paddled to Raquette Lake.
Recreation advocates were concerned because of a proposed five-lot subdivision proposed by landowners Dean and Donna Pohl of Raquette Lake that was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in March 2011.
OSI officials said the acquisition ensures that the carry, as well as hundreds of acres of Adirondack forest, will remain open to the public.
“We just thought the scenic and recreational value couldn’t be overlooked,” Petronis said.
The modern history of the carry goes back to 1899, when great camp developer William West Durant built a rail line along the canoe carry. At 1,320 yards, it was the shortest standard-gauge railroad line in the United States. It operated until 1929, carrying tourist passengers between steamboats and to a country club Durant had in the Blue Mountain Lake area.
Since the railroad closed, the canoe carry has remained an important link in one of the Adirondack Park’s most popular canoe routes. With only the short carry, it’s possible to canoe from Blue Mountain Lake to Indian Lake along a series of lakes and the Marion River.
Private landowners have traditionally permitted the public to use the Marion River Carry. However, recognizing it as an important public recreation resource, the state Department of Environmental Conservation listed the property as a priority acquisition in its 2009 Open Space Plan.
The newly acquired property includes approximately 280 acres of forest lands, three acres of the Marion River and 14.5 acres of Utowana Lake frontage.
The Open Space Institute is fundraising for the $2 million cost of the Marion River Carry property. Anyone interested in contributing can contact Tally Blumberg at (212) 290-8200 ext. 228 or tblumberg@osiny.org.

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In celebration of National Trails Day, which is this Saturday, June 4, the Open Space Institute announced today the acquisition of three miles of rail trail along the old O&W rail bed in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating. The acquisition will further the 140-mile network of recreational rail trails running through the Hudson River Valley and Catskills

The trail was acquired by OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, and runs north from Sullivan Street in the village of Wurtsboro to Route 209 and the D&H Canal Linear Park. The acquisition allows for the development of a nearly 8-mile-long loop for hikers, walkers, bikers and other recreational users. From one end, the trail will head north from the village of Wurtsboro along the historic O&W rail bed before doubling back to the south along the historic D&H Canal Linear Park and canal path.

The newly acquired three-mile stretch of trail links downtown Wurtsboro with the Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests.

“OSI’s acquisition sets the stage for a recreational corridor that connects the village and the state forests, with beautiful wetlands along the way,” said Ed Goodell, the executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. “We believe this will become a very popular destination for local residents and tourists alike.”

OSI envisions that today’s acquisition will one day help complete a 140-mile-long interconnected rail trail network that would run from southern Dutchess County, through Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties on to the southern and western Catskills.

Several pieces of the proposed network have already been acquired by OSI. In 2009, OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust acquired 11.5 miles of railroad bed in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster, in Ulster County. Once this trail is open to the public, it will extend from the town of Shawangunk to the city of Kingston, expanding the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to nearly 24 miles.

In 2001, OSI acquired nearly 2 miles of rail trail on the west side of the Shawangunk Ridge in the town of Wawarsing. OSI is currently in negotiations to purchase an additional 2.1 miles of rail bed in Wawarsing, which would be added to the regional network.

Other portions of the trail network are already publicly owned and maintained, including the Dutchess Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson, the Hurley Marbletown Rail Trail and the Accord Rail Trail. As a unified system, however, the trails would link some of the most well-known, picturesque and historic landscapes in the state.

“The Hudson River Valley and the Catskills are blessed with some of the most beautiful rail trails in the state of New York,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “These trails run through our most bucolic landscapes, connecting towns, villages, parks and rivers. OSI will continue to acquire key stretches of privately held rail beds to assemble and open up an extensive network of trails for the public to enjoy. Recreational rail trails offer a boost to local economies and communities while preserving local land use and heritage. As we have seen elsewhere, everyone wins from access to rail trails.”

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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Continuing on the Long Path Trail

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by Adirondack Waterfront, link to original post

A private landowner has donated a 1,400-acre conservation easement in northeastern Essex County to the Open Space Conservancy, the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute.

The parcel, a largely wooded tract owned by the Johanason family, buffers the western shore of Butternut Pond and includes a mile-long stretch that is visible from the Northway. It includes lands of Pokamoonshine Mountain and can be seen from the historic fire tower on the summit, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers. It is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the Ausable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.

Eric Johanson began traveling to the Adirondacks with his parents in the late 1940s. He purchased a 175-acre tract in the area when he was 19, then acquired other adjoining parcels over time to create a sanctuary he called Baldface Mountain Preserve.

Johanson’s ancestors came from Sweden and were landowners and farmers, so forestry and land ownership are a family tradition, he said. “I did not struggle to put this preserve together to develop it, but to practice conservation, to hunt and fish, and to leave it intact for future generations as a model of sustainable forestry,” Johanson said.

The conservation easement restricts all commercial and residential development on the property, and restricts forestry practices to those that are environmentally responsible and sustainable. The family retains ownership of the land and may pass it on or even sell the land, although the terms of the easement must be adhered to by future owners.

“The acquisition of this conservation easement represents a next step toward OSI’s long-held goal of protecting signature Adirondack landscapes,” said Joe Martens, OSI’s president. “This forest has been sustainably managed for decades, and is emblematic of the matchless beauty of the region.”

In the past 15 years, OSI has protected Adirondack landscapes such as the 2,000-acre Last Chance Ranch, south of Lake Placid and the 10,000-acre-plus Tahawus tract at the southern entrance to the High Peaks, which which includes the historic village of Adirondac, and other important natural areas.

In 2007, OSI also participated, as a conservation lender, in the The Nature Conservancy’s celebrated Finch, Pruyn acquisition, a single transaction that protected nearly 250 square miles of forestland, streams, lakes and mountains just south of the High Peaks region. OSI has protected more than 100,000 acres in New York and assisted in the protection of an additional 1.7 million acres in eight states through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program.

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The Open Space Institute (OSI) announced the donation of 18 acres of forestland brimming with old growth hemlock trees to Black Rock Forest Consortium. OSI is making the donation of 14-plus acres on Sackett Ridge and a 3.6-acre conservation easement on the grounds of Storm King School to honor the 20th anniversary of Black Rock Forest Consortium.

The Black Rock Forest Consortium is an alliance of schools and universities, and scientific and cultural institutions that manage the nearly 4,000-acre Black Rock Forest, located in Cornwall, NY, only 50 miles north of New York City. Open to the public, the Forest is home to an extraordinary variety of wildlife and unspoiled habitat, and the Consortium provides scientific and educational programs dedicated to enhancing and protecting the expansive natural backdrop.

Today’s donation marks another step in OSI’s ongoing efforts to preserve the special open spaces of the Hudson Highlands and Hudson River Valley, where it has protected more than 100,000 acres over 34 years. Across New York State, OSI has created and expanded parks and publicly accessible recreation areas, protected farm and forestland, and preserved historic treasures.

The Sackett Ridge parcel had been a private inholding that was not acquired when Ernest Stillman founded the Forest in 1928. OSI acquired the property—which was a high priority for conservation due to its location high on a sensitive ridgeline, surrounded by the Forest’s Canterbury Brook Ecological Reserve—in 2004, and the Black Rock Forest Consortium agreed to manage it as part of the Forest. OSI acquired the easement on the nearby Storm King School property in 2005, ensuring that the land, located at the entrance to the Forest, would never be developed. The parcel adjoins Storm King State Park on two sides, standing between natural lands and residential development.

“This is a wonderful donation, of strategically situated property, both for the ecological health of the Black Rock Forest and, in turn, the surrounding region,” said William Schuster, the executive director of the Consortium. “The preservation of these properties prevents forest fragmentation and ensures habitat connectivity to sustain populations of native species now threatened across our region, and it will also help protect local stream water quality.

About 25,000 hikers, students and researchers visit Black Rock Forest each year.

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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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