December 13, 2013 - OSI recently completed the transfer of over one thousand
acres, including Sam’s Point, the highest point along the entire Shawangunk ridge,
to New York State. Sam’s Point is a jewel of the Shawangunks, with its pitch
pine barrens and escarpments. You really must see it to believe it, and the good
news is that anyone can. It is less than two hours from New York City, Albany,
and most of southern New York. This large
piece of land will be added to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster
County, making it the largest nature preserve in all of New York.
OSI is particularly proud of this accomplishment – which
returns all of the acreage to the local tax rolls while permanently preserving
it for the public’s use and enjoyment. And it’s the public’s use of public
lands which I want to focus on today.
Open Space Institute has worked in the Shawangunks and the
greater Hudson Valley for decades, and much of our work there has been geared to
creating and enhancing people’s ability to access the natural world. Earlier
this summer, we reopened the historic Rosendale trestle as part of a
collaborative effort that doubled its length to 24 miles and significantly
increased usage of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. When I was there at dusk last Sunday, a large
group of friends were enjoying a December birthday party.
We’re making plans to connect the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
to the proposed Catskill Mountain Rail Trail in the city of Kingston, and we’re
helping the town of New Paltz create a safe pedestrian trail across the
agricultural flats up to the Shawangunk Ridge.
Through our Alliance for New York State Parks program, we
are working right now to improve the quality of the visitor experience at parks
all over the Hudson Valley. At Minnewaska, we’re raising money to support the restoration
of the one-hundred-plus year-old historic carriage road system. The carriage roads’ modest grades are perfect
for mountain bikers, cross country skiers, and hikers. The funds OSI raises will also support the
construction of a new visitor center to make Minnewaska State Park Preserve
more accessible and enjoyable to people year-round.
The Alliance is also helping to renovate the Canopus Lake
visitor and recreation area at Fahnestock State Park to let people swim more
easily and improve visitors’ experiences.
Peoples’ lives are busier today than ever before, and that
is why the Open Space Institute is creating these points of access – close to
home and open to everyone – where we can relax and restore ourselves amidst the
calm of the unspoiled outdoors.
In the next 10 years OSI hopes to add 10,000 more acres to Minnewaska.
The network of hiking trails would run 140 miles, allowing more people to hike,
bike or walk from the north end of the ridge to south, all on protected land.
There is something for everyone in the Hudson Valley,
whether it’s rock climbing, biking, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, or
enjoying nature in your own way. Get
outdoors this winter and explore.