November 15, 2013 - Last week, a colleague and I spent the day hiking through the sun and wind, rain and hail at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County. We hiked down the Long Path, onto Old Smiley Road, and then along Blueberry Pickers Trail before meeting back with the Long Path. I felt good knowing that OSI had protected all 12 miles of that walk, every inch of it still paying full taxes and supporting the local economy.
On this dramatic day, I was taken by the universal beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge, as well as the towns that sit in the shadow of the Ridge. It was easy for me to remember why OSI’s home remains the Hudson Valley.
The Open Space Institute has worked along the Shawangunk Ridge in the New Paltz area for thirty years, preserving close to 30,000 acres. We’ve teamed up with countless local partners to protect waterfalls, escarpments, crystal-clear mountain lakes, pitch-pine barrens – in what is one of the most unique ecosystems in North America.
Although the Shawangunks have long been OSI’s calling card, our work in this area hasn’t been limited to the Ridge. We’ve created and expanded state parks. We’ve protected farms, fields and river corridors. We’ve doubled the size of Minnewaska State Park in the last 30 years.
Every one of these efforts – some big, some small – have been about creating access for people. We’ve tried to create opportunities for people to experience the natural world, be it for exercise, livelihood or simply to recharge one’s batteries. Physically and psychologically, nature restores each of us.
All of these places are just a short drive from New York City, easily accessible to millions of tri-state residents.
Earlier this summer, OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust reopened the historic Rosendale Trestle, putting a scenic exclamation point on the expanded Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Since that day in June, thousands of hikers, bikers, walkers, runners and equestrians have crossed the trestle and used the now 24-mile rail trail.
In this region, we’ve also protected some of the most well-known rock climbing sites in the country. We saved and donated 171 mostly vertical acres in the Trapps Gateway for the Visitor’s Center and hiking trails as well as the Samuel F. Pryor III Trapps Gateway Campground. We’re excited about working with the town of New Paltz and the Mohonk Preserve on the upcoming creation of a public trail across the Wallkill agricultural flats.
The Open Space Institute is proud of our role in the New Paltz and Shawangunk community and we want to continue to work there for years to come. Acre by acre, we’re helping protect open spaces, clean air and water, and creating recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. We hope that you take advantage of the spectacular scenery and amenities of the Hudson Valley. As always, we thank you for your support.