December 12, 2014 –The shadows continue to grow longer as winter settles in. In
the Hudson Valley, Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s crystalline sky lakes and
its numerous waterfalls sit suspended in time. Soon life will slow down as well
for the residents of the Hudson Valley, as they gather with friends and family
to observe the rest of the holiday season.
In this season of reflection, the mind naturally turns to those
major events that defined the past year.
For us, here at the Open Space Institute, it is always a
triumph when our love of seeking out and preserving the most vital pieces of
land harmonizes with the broad-minded vision of others. We delight when many
benefit from our land preservation, or when we are able to link the puzzle
pieces we preserve to create an ever-growing expanse of open space.
All of these elements came together earlier this year in our newest
project for The Center for Discovery.
Over the past 60 years, The Center, found just nearby the
Hudson Valley in Sullivan County, has become a nationally known provider of
health, educational and residential services for children and adults with
severe disabilities, medical frailties, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The
Center’s Discovery school, tailored for children ages 5-21, features a unique
and holistic curriculum that helps residents see themselves as interdependent
with the larger world through farming and being outdoors.
That’s where we at the Open Space Institute have been able to
lend a hand.
Through the years, the Open Space Institute’s ongoing
partnership with The Center for Discovery has protected nearly 750 acres of
farmland. This year the Open Space Institute acquired a 165-acre parcel where
young adults with autism can learn life skills and gain independence through interacting
with the natural world. Photos from The Center show how much the existing
farmland means to The Center’s residents, with residents and Center staff harvesting
apples, feeding chickens, planting seeds, and enjoying the fruits of their
labors with the benefit of chef-prepared meals.
A second acquisition: A nine-mile-plus rail trail that winds
through The Center’s campus. After renovation, the trail will become part of a
larger, interconnected Hudson Valley network spearheaded by the Open Space
Institute and its partners, connecting towns, villages, hamlets, and cities,
with state parks, state forest preserves, wildlife management areas, city
parks, county parks, town parks, non-profit nature preserves, and recreational
trails, including the Long Path. It will also span three major rivers: the
Hudson, Wallkill, and Rondout.
Our vision, combined with theirs—all for the greater good.
As you make your New Year’s resolutions this holiday, what should
be your 2015 priorities?
Consider this: a 2010 study from the University of Rochester
found that being outside for just 20 minutes a day increased energy and
This holiday, I hope you will consider a year-end gift to the
Open Space Institute. You’ll see your donation
recycled back to you when you take an invigorating hike in the woods and feel
your own interconnection with nature. We appreciate the good your contribution
helps us do.
Happy holidays, everyone!