Shawangunk Ridge Greenway
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OSI and The Trust for Public Land protected the 2,518-acre Awosting Reserve in 2007, adding the scenic and rugged acres to the adjacent Minnewaska State Park Preserve.The Awosting Reserve had been the site of a proposed 351-unit housing development which would have had devastating effects on the eastern side of the Shawangunk Ridge. The newly acquired tract protects Gertrude’s Nose, the Palmaghat Ravine, and extends all the way south to the vicinity of Mud Pond. It is now administered as part of the nearly 23,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve. It is used by hikers, walkers, cross-country skiers, bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The protection of Awosting Reserve represents a landmark conservation achievement in the Shawangunks, a 50-mile long ridge that extends from the New Jersey state line to Rosendale in Ulster County.
Basherkill Wildlife Management Area
Once a glacial lake, the 3,200-acre Bashakill Wildlife Management Area is home to numerous wildlife species and many varieties of migratory birds. It supports abundant waterfowl populations and many other wetland-dependent birds, including the Great Blue Heron, Virginia Rail, and the Common Moorhen. The Bashakill Wildlife Management Area is also home to a plethora of rare plants and serves as a fish nursery. These extensive wetlands contain the headwaters of the Basha Kill, which traverses the marshy landscape. The surrounding woods and shrub land contain one of the largest bat hibernacula in the state.
Located near the Village of Wurtsboro in Sullivan County, the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area is one of the largest freshwater wetlands in southern New York State. In the early 1970s, the Open Space Institute assisted the State of New York in completing its first acquisition in the area -- approximately 2,500 acres -- to create the management area. Today, OSI is both adding to the protected wetlands as well as acquiring hundreds of acres on the adjacent Shawangunk Ridge.
The Giant Ledge
Three properties, known together as the “Giant Ledge” for the massive ledge of Shawangunk Conglomerate that stretches from Bonticou Crag north all the way to the hamlet of Rosendale. It boasts exceptional pitch pines and talus fields, and is home to rare animals like the Eastern Box Turtle, Scarlet Tanager and Timber Rattlesnake. These three properties--the Rosendale Waterworks, Dionisio and Bermanzohn Properties--total over 210 acres of cliffs, rare habitat and recreational trails that form an important recreational landscape. All three properties were acquired by OSI and have been conveyed to the Mohonk Preserve, and now extend the Mohonk Preserve north into the hamlet of Rosendale and to the Rosendale Rail Trail and trestle.
Rosendale Waterworks Parcel. The Rosendale Waterworks is a 77-acre property previously owned by the town of Rosendale that is used as a public water supply. Adjacent to the reservoir that supplies water to town residents is the last major rock climbing cliff on the Shawangunk Ridge and a picturesque pond. From its highest point, hikers can look west for stunning views of the Catskills.
The Dionisio and Bermanzohn parcels consist of approximately 84 acres of ridgetop land, and extend the Mohonk Preserve northwards by over a half-mile towards the hamlet of Rosendale, and completes the protection of the northernmost section of the Shawangunk Ridge. The parcels are rugged, with numerous cliffs, ravines, and crevices and views eastward towards the Wallkill River and the Marlboro Hills and westward to the Catskill Mountains. The properties also connects the Mohonk Preserve with the popular Wallkill Rail Trail. Hikers can now walk the rail trail south from the City of Kingston (with two detours) all way to the hamlet of Gardiner (25 miles south), or cross the Dionisio property and follow a public trail network along the crest of the Shawangunk Ridge all the way to the New Jersey border (55 miles south).
Huckleberry Ridge State Forest
The Southern Shawangunks is a remarkable story in that it is a nearly unbroken swath of forest land stretching for over twenty two miles along the southern Shawangunk Ridge in a rapidly developing portion of Sullivan and Orange Counties. Over 9,000 acres of this area have been permanently protected by OSI.
All of the lands acquired by OSI and its partners over the years form a “ribbon” of wilderness running from Ellenville to Wurtsboro that include pitch pine barrens, cliffs, waterfalls, wetlands, rock talus and slab, and a portion of the largest contiguous chestnut oak forest in the State of New York. The area is also a favorite of hikers since the Long Path, a regional hiking trail that starts at the George Washington Bridge and currently ends at John Boyd Thacher State Park outside of Albany, runs the length of the Shawangunk Ridge between Wurtsboro and Ellenville.
The Huckleberry Ridge State Forest is the administrative unit for lands purchased between Port Jervis and Otisville in the towns of Greenville and Deer Park, Orange County. It is about 1,500 acres in size with plans to grow to almost 2,500 acres in size – which will make it one of the larger state forests. It is also a lengthy conservation corridor connecting two population centers – the City of Port Jervis and the hamlet of Otisville – with the crest of the Shawangunk Ridge.
Together with the town of New Paltz, the Open Space Institute acquired a conservation easement that will protect 52 acres of open fields, meadows and wildlife habitat in the scenic Ulster County town.
The acquisition of the easement is the first transaction to use funds from the landmark $2 million Clean Water and Open Space Protection Bond Act that New Paltz voters approved three years ago. Based on the scenic, agricultural and ecological values of the property—a landscaping nursery known for its open fields and meadows—the New Paltz Clean Water and Open Space Protection Commission identified the property as a high priority for protection.
The property is distinctive for its expansive view across open, wet meadows along the course of the Kleinekill Creek at the base of the wooded Shawangunk Ridge. The easement was conveyed by the property owners, Vernon and Barbara Palmateer, who have owned and operated the nursery on the adjoining property since 1972.
Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary
The Open Space Institute (OSI), Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) and the Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation preserved in 2011 in perpetuity of the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, a popular 56-acre nature preserve located on Huguenot Street in the town and village of New Paltz.
HHS acquired the property known as the Harcourt Sanctuary from Hastings Harcourt in 1976 and subsequently established the wildlife sanctuary. In 2009, HHS entered into a Conservation Easement with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust.
The Sanctuary contains the “oxbow,” a complex of ponds and wetlands remaining from a tightly curved meander cut off when the Wallkill River straightened its course hundreds of years ago. It has over 1,300 feet of frontage on the Wallkill River and adjoins the Jewett and Khosla farms, two historic Huguenot farms totaling more than 180 acres that were protected by OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust in the “Two Farms” campaign in 2007. The Sanctuary also adjoins land owned by the village of New Paltz containing the Gardens for Nutrition, a community-supported public gardening area.
Joppenbergh Mountain is an approximately 119-acre parcel of recreational open space located on Main Street in the hamlet and Town of Rosendale, Ulster County, consisting of a summit which rises 240 feet above the hamlet, with numerous cliffs, ravines and crevices and expansive views of the hamlet of Rosendale, the Hudson River, Shaumpaneak Ridge and much of the Hudson River Valley. In the 1930’s the parcel was the site of a ski jump that was used in connection with Olympic training. Today the parcel is vacant land and is informally used for recreational purposes by local residents.
The parcel is adjacent to the Rosendale Rail Trail, a well-used rail trail that is acquired last year by OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, and adjacent to approximately 11.2 acres of parkland recently acquired by the Town of Rosendale as a gift from the Iron Mountain Corporation, which park will also serve as public parking for the newly-acquired rail trail.
The Joppenbergh Mountain parcel continues the linear stretch of lands – over four miles long - that OSI and its partners, the Mohonk Preserve and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, are protecting at the very northern end of the Shawangunk Ridge and north of the Rondout Creek, in the Binnewater Hills.
Once a private estate, the 5,400-acre Lundy Estate is comprised of nearly one hundred separate land parcels that were previously owned by New York restaurateur Frederick W.I. Lundy. Lundy’s Restaurant attracted generations of hungry diners to the sprawling 2,800-seat seafood emporium in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Lundy property was once farmed by several families of Dutch descent. Since that time, fields once cleared for raising livestock and growing crops have reverted to forestland. The landscape of the Lundy property is an important wildlife corridor, linking the Catskill Mountains with the Shawangunk Ridge, both areas that OSI has been active in protecting thousands of acres. A six-mile stretch of the Vernooy Kill, a favorite fishing stream, courses through thousands of acres of undeveloped woodlands and wetlands, and a section of the Long Path, a 328-mile regional hiking trail that begins at the George Washington Bridge, runs through the Lundy property.
The Open Space Institute and the Trust for Public Land acquired the Lundy Estate in 2000 in order to protect the natural resources of the property and promote compatible outdoor recreational pursuits. Under previous ownership it was the proposed site of a massive theme-park type development. Conservationists heralded the protection of the Lundy property as one of the most significant additions to the publicly held lands of the Catskills since the creation of the Catskill Forest Preserve in the 1880s. In 2002, it was conveyed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which now manages it for public recreation and wildlife management as the Vernooy State Forest.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, long considered the jewel of the state park system, is now almost 23,000 acres in size, and continues to be the largest public park preserve in New York State. This park was assembled through numerous separate acquisitions, ranging from the 6,995-acre acquisition of the Lake Awosting tract in December of 1971 to a one-third of an acre acquisition.
Over the years OSI and our conservation partners have added over 12,000 acres to the state park, including the Witch’s Hole Conservation Area, the Sam’s Point area, and lands in the Peterskill Conservation Area on the north end of the park. The ultimate goal is to increase the size of Minnewaska State Park by another 2,500 acres over the next ten years, bringing its size to approximately 25,000.
Sam's Point Preserve
The 5,700-acre Sam’s Point Preserve shelters one of the Earth’s rarest ecosystems, the dwarf pine barrens. Consisting of mature stunted trees and a shrubby understory, the barrens are noted for their low fertility rate and sparse canopy. Blueberry, huckleberry, and sheep laurel shrubs dot the Sam’s Point area while species like wintergreen, wild lily-of-the-valley, and a diversity of mosses cover the ground. Sam’s Point was formerly known as the Ellenville Ice Caves, named after the deep glaciated crevasses that retain winter ice and snow through much of the summer, making them a popular destination for those escaping the summer heat.
The Open Space Institute acquired the 5,770-acre Sam’s Point Preserve in a series of transactions between 1997 and 2010. Nearly 4,000 acres of the property was transferred to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in 2006, expanding the Minnewaska State Park Preserve by nearly 25%, and is managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), ensuring its beauty for future generations. OSI and TNC have completed major repairs to the trails leading up to the ice caves, once again allowing public access to this unique geologic feature.
Designated as one of 75 “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy, Sam’s Point Preserve is accessible for a variety of recreational and educational uses including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, and more. Visitors can hike more than thirteen miles of trails to enjoy cascading waterfalls such as Verkeederkill Falls, stark quartz cliffs, picturesque streams, the 57-acre Lake Maratanza, and views that extend into five states.
With nearly 7,000 preserved acres, the Mohonk Preserve is the largest member-supported nature preserve in New York State, and protects an important swath of ridgetop land at the northern end of the Shawangunk Mountain.
OSI is working closely with the Mohonk Preserve on three important expansions of the Preserve. The first of these areas is an extension of the Mohonk Preserve northwards towards the hamlet of Rosendale, and protecting the very northern reaches of the range and the ecologically unique area north of Bonticou Crag. The second effort involves acquiring lands in the area of the Peterskill, just north of the High Peterskill entrance to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The third important expansion of the Mohonk Preserve involves 857-acres of scenic lands and farms on the eastern escarpment of the Shawangunk Ridge, near the Village of Ne Paltz, that was acquired from Smiley Brothers, Inc., the owners of famed Mohonk Mountain House.
Rondout and Wallkill Valley Farms
In 2007, after two decades of extensive Shawangunk Ridge protection efforts, OSI launched the Two Valleys Campaign to expand OSI’s conservation focus to the farming communities that flank the mountain range: the Wallkill Valley to the southeast and the Rondout Valley to the northwest. Both valleys are named after the Hudson River tributaries that wind through them and make their soils some of the richest in the region.
As of January 2012, OSI has protected twenty-one farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys, bringing the total acreage of farms it has protected to over 4,000 acres. The farms in the Rondout Valley include the Davenport farm on Route 209 in Stone Ridge; the former Misner farm on Tongore Road, which is now a successful dairy farm owned by Frank and Cindy Brooks; the Osterhoudt farm on Route 213 in Stone Ridge (black angus beef); the Paul farm in Hurley; the Davis farm on Route 209 in Kerhonkson; the Domino (DeWitt) and Rominger farms on Airport Road in the town of Rochester; and Appeldoorn Farm, an 18th- century historic farm. More information about the individual farms can be had here.
The protected farms in the Wallkill Valley include the 857-acre Smiley Brothers tract, the 144-acre Van Alst (Watchtower) Farm on the agricultural flats west of New Paltz; the Phillies Bridge Farm CSA in Gardiner; the Kiernan beef farm in the Brunswick Valley area of Gardiner, and the historic Huguenot farms (the Jewett Farm and the Khosla Farm) on Huguenot Street in the Village of New Paltz. More information about the individual farms can be found here.
Shawangunk Ridge State Forest
The southern Shawangunk Mountains begins near Ellenville, New York, a two-hour drive from New York City, and continues south to Port Jervis and the New Jersey border. The southern “Gunks” region includes rare and unusual swamps, secluded glens, gleaming white cliffs, exposed slab rock, chestnut oak forests, and open summits with extensive view sheds of the Hudson River Valley.
Visitors to the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest can hike a stretch of the historic Long Path, a 326-mile hiking trail extending from the George Washington Bridge north to John Boyd Thacher Park near Albany. There are plans in the future to extend the trail to the Mohawk River and eventually into the Adirondacks.
In an ongoing effort that began in 1984, the Open Space Institute has protected over 9,000 acres of the Southern Shawangunks between Route 52 to the north and Port Jervis on the south. OSI conveyed these lands to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to be managed as part of the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest, Roosa Gap State Forest, Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest, and Huckleberry Ridge State Forest. OSI’s long-term goal is to create an unbroken 50-mile swath of parkland running from the Mohonk Preserve near Rosendale to Port Jervis.
Smiley Lands and Eastern Foothills
The enormously scenic and historic Smiley Brothers lands, acquired from the owners of the famed Mohonk Mountain House in two parcels. The first, which includes the four-story stone Testimonial Gateway at the intersection of Gatehouse Road and Route 299, is an 857-acre expanse along Route 299, Butterville Road, Gatehouse Road and Pine Road west of the village of New Paltz. The second is a 17-acre tract of forested land located near the entrance to Minnewaska State Park Preserve in the town of Rochester. These lands include the last stretch of an historic, Victorian-era carriage road connecting the Mohonk Preserve and the Minnewaska State Park Preserve that is still in private ownership.
In 2011, 144 acres of additional farmland, located on the vast agricultural flats west of the Village of New Paltz and farmed for hundreds of years, were acquired by OSI from the Watchtower Society.
Together, the Smiley and Eastern Foothills acquisitions not only protect one of the last large tracts of open space on the Shawangunk Ridge, but also account for (and protect) more than 30 percent of the active farmland in the town of New Paltz. The permanently preserved landscape provides much of the open space for the western portion of the town of New Paltz, and represents one of the largest and most high-profile land transfers in the Hudson Valley in recent years.
In the foothills of the Northern Shawangunk Ridge, the Trapps Gateway opens onto the 6,600-acre Mohonk Preserve, the largest member-and-visitor-supported Preserve in New York State, and serves as the main public entryway to the Shawangunks. The Gateway welcomes visitors to hundreds of miles of carriage roads and trails designated for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and more. Each year, 50,000 climbing enthusiasts come to the Preserve to tackle more than 1,000 technical rock-climbing routes along five linear miles of Shawangunk grit cliff face.
In 2006, OSI donated 117 acres of protected Gateway lands to the Mohonk Preserve, for a new Visitor’s Center. These lands are located along Route 299 and Route 44-55 in the Town of Gardiner, and protect the rolling foothills underneath the massive Trapps and Near Trapps escarpments, which host the premier rock climbing area in the eastern United States.
Wallkill Valley and O&W Rail Trails
The Open Space Institute and Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) have extended the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail by 11.5 miles, nearly doubling its current length. The acquisition of approximately 65 acres of the former Wallkill Valley Railroad in Ulster County provides a nearly continuous recreational trail that runs through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale and Ulster, and on to southern reaches of the City of Kingston. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail will provide recreational access for walkers, runners, equestrians, birders, bicyclists, and cross-country skiers, and will connect the hamlet of Gardiner to the Village of New Paltz and the hamlet of Rosendale. It also affords its users outstanding views of open farmlands, the scenic Shawangunk Ridge, and the limestone caves of the Binnewater Lakes region.
The railroad bed, also known locally as the Rosendale Rail Trail, includes the iconic 940-foot-long railroad trestle over the Rondout Creek in the hamlet of Rosendale that was constructed in 1895 and which connects the Shawangunk Ridge to the Binnewater Lakes region. This trestle is currently being reconstructed by Open Space Institute and Wallkill Valley Land Trust so that it is safe for public recreational use by walkers, hikers, cross-country skiiers and equestrians.
The acquisition of over three miles of rail trail along the old O&W rail bed in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating, NY runs north from Sullivan Street in the village of Wurtsboro to Route 209 and the D&H Canal Linear Park. The acquisition allows for the development of a nearly 8-mile-long loop for hikers, walkers, bikers and other recreational users. From one end, the trail will head north from the village of Wurtsboro along the historic O&W rail bed before doubling back to the south along the historic D&H Canal Linear Park and canal path. The three-mile stretch of trail links downtown Wurtsboro with the Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests.
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