December 1, 2014 – The holiday season has arrived again, that time of year when
we join friends and family to show appreciation for the gifts and bounty of another
year. It is no wonder so many look forward to the holidays, because when you honor
and acknowledge others through thought, word or deed, you cannot help but feel good.
Beyond greeting-card pleasantries, many studies have shown
that when we humans honor and help others, our good intentions pay dividends in
the form of better physical and mental wellbeing for ourselves.
Which is why, here at the Open Space Institute, we are all
feeling pretty positive this December.
As 2014 draws to a close, the Open Space Institute is
celebrating another successful year: we are on track to conserve over 17,000
acres in seven states and two countries. That’s a rate of nearly 50 acres each
day of 2014!
Hand-in-hand with these impressive numbers go the benefits
that open space provides to you.
Natural lands save millions of dollars in flood control and
water purification, food and clean air. They also provide us that indescribable
feeling when we escape our busy lives, even for a few hours, to ramble amongst
the trees and streams. Outdoors, many of us forget about rushing from Point A
to Point B, and feel the relief of getting to view once again the Bigger
Picture: our interconnectedness with nature, and the timelessness of conserved
Contributing to something larger than ourselves is what
motivates us here at the Open Space Institute. Just last month, Governor Andrew
Cuomo announced that New York State reached an agreement to acquire a
conservation easement for the nearly 4,000-acre Black Rock Forest in Orange
County—the largest Hudson Highlands conservation easement ever!
The new easement which the Open Space Institute is
purchasing will allow park visitors the uninterrupted space of nearly 60 miles
of trails and 8,600 acres of protected land, with sweeping vistas of dramatic
ridges, forest-ponds and reservoirs.
Meanwhile, just south of New York City in Morris County, New
Jersey, the Open Space Institute is putting the finishing touches on the
preservation of 165 acres of the former Giralda Farms property within the
watershed of the federally protected Great Swamp. Completed just in time to
prevent residential developers from building on the land, this is a big deal in
many ways: one of the largest undeveloped parcels remaining in the county, the
largest transaction ever completed in Morris County, one of the largest ever
completed in New Jersey itself—and our first one in the state.
This holiday season, when you consider what you’re thankful
for, I hope you will include the natural world—and places like Black Rock
Forest and Giralda Farms, now preserved forever. Take your family to visit a
favorite local park or conserved area this holiday, or better yet show your
appreciation with a donation to the Open Space Institute or another
environmental organization of your choice. We appreciate your contribution and
the good it helps us do.
Happy holidays, everyone!