NEW YORK, NY - March 17, 2006 - On March 16, Commissioner Bernadette Castro of New York's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, announced an historic acquisition in the Shawangunks, to the applause of a community that for more than four years resisted a widely publicized development proposal on land known as Awosting Reserve. The development called for a 296-acre golf course and 350 luxury homes.
With 2,500 acres of open space now protected, a variety of recreationists, including hikers, bikers and birders, will have access to a large swath of the Gunks in Ulster County, New York.
The Trust for Public Land, with support from the Open Space Institute, negotiated the $17 million deal and expedited a transaction that led to the organization's acquisition of the land and subsequent transfer to the state of New York. Awosting Reserve will be added to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, making it New York's largest state park preserve. The Open Space Institute applauds TPL's perseverance and steadfast commitment to protecting this key parcel in the Shawangunks.
The protection of Awosting Reserve represents a landmark conservation achievement in the Shawangunks, a fifty mile long ridge that extends from the New Jersey state line to Rosendale in Ulster County. The Open Space Institute has conserved more than 20,000 acres in the Shawangunks since 1971, when the first glimmer of a development threat was evident. What was once a relatively minor threat has evolved into a considerable force—with second home buyers racing to acquire and build homes in the Gunks. OSI's goal is to prevent fragmentation of key wildlife habitats and forested landscapes and expand recreational opportunities in the Gunks. With real estate values appreciating over recent years, we are working against the clock to protect the ridge and its unique landscape.
OSI's Shawangunk Ridge Protection Program, has protected approximately 24,000 acres of undeveloped land on and around the Shawangunk Ridge, including the highest summits in the range (Sam's Point and High Point), the famed Ellenville ice caves, Stony Kill Falls, the Witch's Hole, the Mine Hole Hollow, the Trapps Gateway, the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest and other areas. In 1997, OSI's land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, purchased the 5,534-acre Sam's Point Preserve. Traditionally known as Ice Caves Mountain, the Sam's Point Preserve is a crown jewel that contains the best example of dwarf pine barrens on the earth, and anchors tens of thousands of acres of wild land on the Shawangunk Ridge.
Sam's Point Preserve is now managed by OSI's partner, The Nature Conservancy, which designated Sam's Point one of the “Last Great Places” on Earth. Click here to read OSI's publication, OPEN SPACE, Summer 2004, which featured the Gunks.