Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Your Environment Podcast

On this week’s Your Environment podcast, OSI’s Erik Kulleseid speaks about one of the best places to go, just 60 miles from New York City: Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park. Every Friday, listen to Your Environment on the Mid-Hudson News website:

Erik Kulleseid on the Environment Podcast Header


April, 3, 2015 —As New York slowly unthaws into Spring, more and more people will engage in a yearly tradition: flocking to parks across the state for outdoor fun. From hiking to swimming, one of the best places to go is just 60 miles from New York City: Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park.

Every year, Fahnestock welcomes an astounding quarter-million people who use the park to hike, swim, camp, bike, birdwatch, fish, ski and showshoe. With so many enthusiastic visitors, it’s clear how grateful people are for this park. What many don’t know, however, is the moving story behind the founding of Fahnestock, which truly was built by the spirit of philanthropy.

In 1914, the park’s namesake, Clarence Fahnestock, a Harvard man and scion of a prominent banker, was firmly a member of Manhattan’s intellectual and societal elite and enjoying the pinnacle of a flourishing medical career. When World War I broke out across Europe, however, he gave up his practice to join the Army as a line officer. In 1918, he succumbed to the devastating Spanish Influenza in Chaumont, France, while treating patients with the disease.

In 1929, Dr. Ernest Fahnestock chose to honor his younger brother’s legacy of sacrifice with a donation of former farmland for a park. Through the years, others have built on the Fahnestock brothers’ generosity with gifts of their own, growing the park piece by piece. Since OSI became involved, we have spearheaded a movement to add 7,000 acres, doubling Fahnestock to its current 14,000 acres and creating a regional economic driver stretching across Putnam and Dutchess counties. 

Today, nearly 90 years after its creation, there are still more exciting new developments at Fahnestock. Just this week, OSI closed on a deal to preserve an adjacent property, called Roaring Brook. Long targeted for development, the property is now conserved after years of local advocacy. Going forward, OSI will convey it to New York State Parks to expand recreation and protect sensitive species in the area. Roaring Brook will forever maintain its current natural setting of changing elevations, wetlands, rocky outcroppings and swaths of oak and hemlock forests.

In addition to Roaring Brook, there are developments afoot at Fahnestock’s Canopus Lake visitor complex, which is a part of Ernest Fahnestock’s original land donation creating the park. Over the past two years, OSI has been raising money and support for a major overhaul of the deteriorating beach and recreation area there. To date, the Alliance has raised $1.2 million in private funds and grants towards this effort, which we are putting toward updating the lifeguard facilities, rejuvenating services for the park’s ten miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and improving energy efficiency at the site.

When Dr. Ernest Fahnestock gave the land to create the park in 1929, he could have had no way of foreseeing the cherished escape it would eventually become for the modern generation of park-goers.

Truly, for generations to come, it will be amazing to see the impact that the land preservation we set in motion today will have on tomorrow’s New York.

Stream and listen to Erik on the Your Environment podcast.
























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