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Conservation Continues at Sterling Forest

NEW YORK, NY - December 12, 2006 - New York State recently announced the acquisition of a crucial piece of Sterling Forest, a 575-acre private parcel surrounded by public land that was threatened by a golf course and luxury home development plan. The Open Space Institute (OSI) salutes our Joint Venture Partner, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), for their tenacious efforts to see this $13.5 million deal through more than a decade of negotiation. The acquisition increased the size of Sterling Forest State park to more than 18,200 acres, one of the largest state parks in New York.

In the early 1990s OSI, together with TPL, initiated negotiation with the governors of New York and New Jersey to permanently set aside the core of Sterling Forest, which straddles New York's Orange County and New Jersey's Passaic County. The effort resulted in the protection of 15,280 acres in 1997 at a cost of over $55 million. The creation of Sterling Forest State Park was, at the time, the largest addition to the New York State Park system in fifty years. OSI subsequently protected two additional parcels that have since been transferred to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Within thirty-five miles of New York City and other densely populated areas, Sterling Forest is an unbroken ecosystem of forests, streams and farmlands that encompasses the New York-New Jersey Highlands. The region is a geographic linchpin that helps to create a greenway between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, providing critical habitat for a variety of species including resident and migratory hawks, songbirds, and mammals such as black bear. The area is also a human haven for hiking and fishing. The 1997 deal secured protection of a watershed that provides one quarter of New Jersey residents with clean drinking water and also spared the area from what would have then been the biggest planned development on the East Coast.

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Sterling Forest
Photo by George M. Aronson

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