January 9, 2015 — The next time you stroll through your favorite natural area,
imagine that instead of a trail, you are setting foot on a putting green and
manicured subdivision. For nearly ten
years, this was to be the fate of a serene wooded area in Chester Township
which is connected to Goosepond Mountain State Park, and which developers had
been eyeing for a golf course and 222-unit residential development.
Area residents objected and on Christmas Eve the property which
we call Goosepond Mountain South was preserved, due to the efforts of the Open
Space Institute, and many devoted supporters.
There is a lot that is special about this little piece of Orange County. The new acquisition is 398 acres and adjacent to Goosepond State Park. With this new addition, the total size of the entire state park is now just under 25 square miles of undeveloped woods, fields and wetlands for hikers and horseback riders. The
state park is located about two miles from the dense development sprawling
north and west from the New York State Thruway and Route 17 interchange.
What’s more, the preservation of Goosepond Mountain South
creates a new entrance to the state park—giving residents from the South easy
access to this undeveloped wilderness. Soon, visitors can walk through this new
gateway onto the multi-state Highlands Trail, which, when complete, will allow
an intrepid hiker from Orange County to march south to the Delaware River in
New Jersey, or north across the Hudson River to the Connecticut border.
Just southeast of Goosepond State Park, Sterling Forest
State Park can be found. Preserving Goosepond Mountain South is one more step
towards a share goal of connecting these two parks. This would mean hikers can
remain off-road as they traverse between the parks. Animals have a better chance of long-term survival
when properties bordering undeveloped lands are conserved to create protective
wildlife corridors. Land preservation also protects the water quality of
streams that flow beyond man-made property boundaries and into the aquifers you
and I depend on.
Looking forward, the Open Space Institute
plans to open up Goosepond Mountain South to the public and then transfer the
property to New York State Parks. This transaction builds upon our longtime
commitment toward creating and adding to New York’s state parks. Over the past
40 years, through nearly 80 conservation initiatives, OSI has added more than
40,000 acres to New York’s 335,000-acre state park system. That’s two acres per
day every day over the last four decades!
What can you do to help create more conservation wins like
Goosepond Mountain South? Environmental groups like the Open Space Institute
thrive with grassroots support. Take a minute to follow us on Twitter at
@OpenSpaceInst or like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date with our news. Sometime
over the next few days, bundle up and go for an invigorating walk outside; feel
yourself open up to the landscape. Sometimes we all need to get outside to remember
that we are part of nature.