ALBANY, NY - January 6, 2006 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today announced that the State will purchase approximately 43 acres of important open space to add to DEC's Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. The parcel is located in the Town of New Scotland, Albany County, and will be acquired through a partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI). The parcel will protect and provide increased public access to the Center's precious natural resources.
“This acquisition will be instrumental in expanding the Center's wildlife conservation area, birding areas, and hiking opportunities,” Commissioner Sheehan said. “On behalf of Governor George Pataki, DEC, and the more than 100,000 Capital Region residents who visit Five Rivers each year, I thank OSI for our continuing partnership to preserve critical open space and supporting the ever-growing public use and appreciation of this facility.”
In 1973, the owner of the parcel - the late Walt Miller - gave Five Rivers an access easement along a portion of the property for use as part of the Vlomankill Trail system. The picturesque trail traces the Vlomankill stream through a hemlock-shaded ravine that features impressive trees, elevated views and exposed bedrock. Today's announcement permanently protects the Vlomankill corridor, as well as providing a buffer along the associated hiking trail.
DEC will acquire the property from OSI for $113,000 using money from the State's Environmental Protection Fund. The property offers protection of wetlands, as well as grassland habitat for vulnerable bird species, such as the bobolink. The land includes 20 acres of grassland and 20 acres of forest. It abuts the western boundary of the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute, said, “OSI was pleased to play a role in the expansion of the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. This facility is an enormous asset for the Capital Region. It is an oasis in the rapidly growing suburbs that surround it and it is an outdoor classroom for young and old alike. This acquisition is yet another example of the Governor's rock solid commitment to open space protection and environmental education.”
RoseAnne Fogarty, President of the Friends of Five Rivers Board of Directors, said, “The Friends of Five Rivers exists because the commitment of diverse citizens in this region to protecting their natural surroundings. We are gratified to participate in the announcement of the addition of the Miller Parcel to the beautiful open space that is Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.”
The Five Rivers Environmental Education Center consists of approximately 400 acres that includes a vibrant community-based educational institution, a rich biological treasury, a peaceful sanctuary for exploration and spiritual retreat. The Center provides year-round educational programs for the public, and hosts many groups from area schools each week who are interested in learning about fun opportunities to enjoy nature. The property features 10 miles of nature trails, for hiking, cross country skiing and casual strolling. Two of the trails offer universal access for persons of all abilities.
The State's Open Space Conservation plan designated Five Rivers as a priority project. Since 1995, New York State has preserved more than 932,000 acres of important open space statewide and invested more than $13 billion to protect and preserve New York's environment.
The Open Space Institute, founded in 1963, is a New York-based, non-profit land conservation organization that works to permanently protect landscapes from development. OSI has worked previously with the State on acquisitions in the Hudson Valley, including projects on the Shawangunk Ridge, the Helderberg Escarpment and the Catskill.