State Parks Acquires 602 Acres from the Open Space Institute, Expanding Minnewaska State Park Preserve; Acquisition Increases Access While Protecting Shawangunk Streams, Waterfalls and Rare Pitch Pine Barrens
ULSTER COUNTY, NY— April 7, 2015 — The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced a 602-acre expansion of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, which will enhance year-round, trail-based recreational opportunities in the Shawangunks and further protect the Witch’s Hole Conservation Area, a remote and spectacular part of the preserve. The expansion consists of two parcels acquired from the Open Space Institute, a leader in the preservation of the Shawangunks, for $2.4 million from the Environmental Protection Fund.
“Providing this new backcountry access to Minnewaska State Park Preserve is another example of how Governor Cuomo is expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for New York residents and visitors,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “These lands significantly enrich the opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore this stunning area of New York. I’m grateful to the Open Space Institute for its partnership in this important work.”
“With its dramatic cliffs, renowned carriage roads and devoted visitors, it’s easy to forget that Minnewaska State Park is less than 40 years old; built piece by piece through the work of OSI and its conservation partners,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “We are thankful to Governor Cuomo for his support of Minnewaska, proud of our role in building this spectacular park and grateful for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund which fuels park expansion and open space conservation projects throughout the state.”
The acquisition includes two parcels on the northwestern edge of the preserve in the town of Wawarsing in Ulster County, which were the last two privately held parcels in the 3,000-acre Witch’s Hole Conservation Area. MAP
A 363-acre parcel off of Port Ben Road/Towpath Road consists of a lengthy strip of land stretching over 2.3 miles into the heart of the park, from the base of the Shawangunk Ridge to near its summit near Napanoch Point and High Point. The parcel contains extensive cliffs, waterfalls, deep hemlock ravines and secluded glens, and pitch pine barrens. The parcel also protects one of the most remote areas of the Shawangunk Ridge, a deep ravine, stream and waterfalls known as the Witch’s Hole.
“For years this parcel has been a high priority of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission for protection and we are very appreciative of the state acquisition,” said Jim Hall, Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, under which ownership of the land will fall.
The second property was formerly part of Soyuzivka, a resort operated by the Ukrainian National Association, a Ukrainian fraternal organization. The 233-acre parcel provides important recreational access from Foordmore Road and contains a mountainous stream known as the Little Stony Kill and its magnificent 100-foot high waterfalls, known locally as Nonkanawha Falls. The parcel also has extensive views of the Catskill Mountains and contains an extensive wilderness ravine known as the Mine Hole Hollow, several streams, and large expanses of bedrock and pitch pines.
Consistent with past sales of property to Minnewaska, OSI is contributing 25 percent ($480,000) of the purchase price for these two additions to the state for a park endowment. This latest contribution brings the total amount of the OSI-funded Minnewaska endowment to nearly $2.5 million, resulting in the protection of thousands of state forest land there. This latest success also continues OSI’s overall legacy in preserving land atop and adjacent to the Ridge, with a total of over 32,000 acres preserved over the past 30 years.
Now 22,881 acres, and the largest state park preserve in New York, Minnewaska State Park Preserve features numerous waterfalls, three crystalline sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, sheer cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views, clear streams cut into valleys, and 35 miles of carriageways and 25 miles of footpaths. Tens of thousands of visitors come to the Shawangunk Ridge each year to enjoy the natural beauty of the region and recreational opportunities that include rock climbing, hiking and biking. A recent study found the three main recreational areas in the region—the Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve, now a part of Minnewaska—have a combined economic impact on the local area of about $12.3 million and support
358 local jobs.