March 31, 2008 - New York, NY - The Open Space Conservancy, the land-acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute (OSI), announced the permanent protection of 95 acres of the Osterhoudt Farm on Route 213 in the Town of Marbletown, New York, located west of Stone Ridge. The acquisition of the agricultural easement, which ensures that the farm will not be developed, is part of OSI’s ongoing Two Valleys Campaign, which focuses protection efforts on working farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys, an area of unusual beauty and abundant farmland.
The Osterhoudt family began farming their Ulster County property shortly after the Revolutionary War and have been careful and conscientious stewards of the land ever since. NYS Route 213 (Atwood Road), a state highway that runs from Stone Ridge to Olive, bisects the Osterhoudt Farm, making the property’s extensive frontage extremely attractive for development that would have profoundly disrupted the scenic and bucolic nature of Route 213 and the surrounding area.
“Many generations of Osterhoudts have worked this land,” said Claude E. Osterhoudt, who owns the farm along with his wife Holly. “If they were here today they would be pleased. This beautiful farm is permanently protected from subdivision and development, and the monies from the sale of the agricultural easement will keep the farm and our beef business on a sound footing for years to come.”
The agricultural easement, which protects 95 acres of prime agricultural land owned by the Osterhoudts, permits continued use of the picturesque farm and the historic farmhouse while prohibiting residential subdivision or other non-farm use. OSI acquired the easement for $700,000, with capital coming from a loan from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund, held by the Open Space Conservancy.
The Osterhoudt family has also given OSI a three-year period in which to raise funds to protect an additional 120 acres of farmland owned by the Osterhoudts located across from the Stone Ridge Elementary School on Route 213.
This parcel is important because it sits atop the principle aquifer that supplies the Town of Marbletown’s drinking water; it protects the Esopus Creek watershed; and it preserves a scenic and open landscape. An agricultural easement on this additional property would cost OSI $1.2 million, and will result in a total of 215 acres of farmland being protected along this section of Route 213. Over the next three years, OSI will seek to raise funds from public and private sources both in Marbletown and elsewhere in order to enable it to protect this important landscape.
“Today’s protection of the historic and scenic Osterhoudt Farm is part of a much larger effort by OSI and others to protect working family farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys and other important areas of New York State,” said Joe Martens, President of OSI. “Claude and Holly are remarkable people. They are true conservationists who have been careful stewards of this resource for many years, operating a successful beef business which provides wholesome, healthy, local food. OSI has been honored to work with them in achieving their goals and protecting their land.”
“We look forward to working with the Marbletown Preservation and Investment Commission in protecting the Osterhoudt farm and other critical landscapes that residents showed their support for when they passed the 2006 Open Space Bond Act,” Martens added.
Voters in the Town of Marbletown approved a $2 million bond act to preserve open space in November 2006. The bond act campaign was enacted to protect and preserve important landscapes such as the Osterhoudt Farm, a well-known and loved scenic landscape in the town. Since passage of the bond act, OSI staff has assisted town officials in creating the requisite legislation and open space program to use these bond act funds most effectively.
“Preservation of Marbletown’s working family farms has been identified, time and time again by our residents, as a top priority,” said Vincent Martello, Marbletown Supervisor. “Agriculture plays a vital role in our local and regional economy and is woven into the cultural and historical fabric of our community. We are delighted that OSI has chosen to help preserve the Osterhoudt Farm. We look forward to working with OSI to protect critical farms in Marbletown, and we will continue to do everything we possibly can to support our hard-working farm families.”
While the farm has been a successful angus beef operation for decades, the funds generated by the sale of the agricultural easement will allow the Osterhoudts to reinvest in and maintain the farm, helping them face the economic challenges of farmers in the Hudson River Valley. Under the terms of the agricultural easement, the Osterhoudts retain ownership of the farm, which remains on the tax rolls, subject to the conservation restrictions under the easement.
The Osterhoudt Farm agricultural easement brings the amount of farmland that OSI has protected in the Esopus River corridor that runs through Marbletown and Hurly to nearly 750 acres, including the 268-acre Paul Farm in the town of Hurley, the 325-acre Davenport Farm, and the 52-acre Misner Farm in Marbletown. In both the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys of Ulster County, OSI has preserved over 2,200 acres of productive agricultural land to date. OSI is actively fundraising to protect an additional 3,500 acres of farmland in these two picturesque valleys that surround the Shawangunk Ridge, where OSI has protected 25,000 acres including Sam’s Point and much of Minnewaska State Park. Across New York State, OSI has protected over 100,000 acres.