Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Governor Cuomo Announces Creation of More Than 4,000 Acres of Parkland in the Hudson Highlands

Merrill property View from Black Rock

View from Black Rock Forest (Greg Miller)  

Acquisitions protect diminishing open space, expand access to outdoor recreation; More than 8,000 acres of state parkland added in Mid-Hudson Valley since 2011

NEW YORK, NY — October 21, 2016 — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the State has established more than 4,000 acres of parkland in the Hudson Highlands, expanding access to outdoor recreation and forever protecting diminishing open space that had been threatened with development. The parkland includes a 3,777-acre conservation easement for Black Rock Forest located in Orange County as well as significant parcels abutting Goosepond Mountain State Park in Orange County and Clarence Fahnestock State Park in Putnam County.

“Expanding these State Parks will allow us to better preserve the natural splendor of New York State’s landscape for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “These scenic lands in the Hudson Highlands will offer more places for exploring the outdoors while preserving the open space that helps make our communities cleaner, greener and more resilient for generations to come.”

Since the Governor took office in 2011, more than 8,000 acres of state parkland have been added in the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Several recent acquisitions were made with the assistance of the Open Space Institute, including:

The Black Rock Forest easement, donated to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by OSI and valued at $1.3 million, helps create a publicly-accessible land connection between Storm King State Park and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, preserving a scenic viewshed corridor, while helping connect 60 miles of recreational trails and 8,600 acres of open space. Black Rock Forest, featuring nearly 25 miles of trails, is considered the largest area in the Hudson Highlands with a sustained elevation over 1,200 feet, sweeping vistas of dramatic ridges, forest-ponds and reservoirs.

The acquisition of 411 acres adjacent to the 1,558-acre Goosepond Mountain State Park will provide  new park access, help improve the multi-state Highlands Trail, and facilitate connections to Sterling Forest and Harriman State Parks to the south and east. Black Rock Forest and Storm King to the north. The 411-acre property was once proposed as a golf course and more than 200 housing units. After the proposal was vigorously opposed by the local community, OSI acquired the site in 2014.

Acquisition of the 235-acre “Roaring Brook” property expand the 14,000-acre Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park’s abundant recreational offerings and help ensure valuable habitat for sensitive plants and animals. The property had been an acquisition priority of State Parks for over a decade, and was acquired by OSI in 2015. State Parks expects to designate a parking area and trails to provide public access to the property.

The state purchased one of the last few remaining undeveloped parcels along Lake Surprise Road near Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, a 59-acre parcel which provides a significant buffer for the park.

“The Black Rock easement, coupled with decades of OSI additions to local state parks, has created a regional recreational destination that will draw everyone from nature lovers and recreational enthusiasts to families looking to spend an afternoon in the sunshine,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute.  We thank Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Harvey and our partners at the extraordinary Black Rock Forest Consortium, long supported by the Golden and the Stillman families, for their terrific partnership and 100 years of conservation, education and research.”

“These open space acquisitions reflect Governor Cuomo’s commitment to protecting the environment and providing a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities for New York residents and visitors,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks). “Our State Parks continue to grow and improve. I’m grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute and Black Rock Forest Consortium for protecting lands threatened by development and preserving it for future generations.”

Ed Goodell, Executive Director of the New York/New JerseyTrail Conference, which maintains the Highland Trail said, “This key parcel allows the Highlands Trail to be relocated from a dangerous road walk onto parkland and makes a continuous greenway between Sterling Forest to Storm King state parks more viable.”

Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund allowed State Parks to acquire the Goosepond Mountain parcel for $3.4 million; the Fahnestock property for $800,000, and the Hudson Highlands property for $750,000.

The additional park acreage underscores Governor Cuomo’s commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The 2016-17 State Budget includes a historic $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, nearly doubling the fund for open space protection, parkland stewardship and other environmental protection projects. In addition, the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 is a multi-year commitment to leverage a broad range of private and public funding to invest approximately $900 million in State Parks from 2011 to 2020.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 65 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.



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