Protects Diminishing Open Space and Expands Access to Outdoor Recreation
More Than 9,500 Acres of State Parkland Added in Mid-Hudson Valley Since 2011
Marks Completion of Key Priority Project under Governor’s Open Space Conservation Plan
On Earth Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the preservation of more than 5,900 acres of parkland in the Hudson Highlands, expanding access to outdoor recreation and forever protecting diminishing open space. The parkland includes a 3,777-acre conservation easement for Black Rock Forest in Orange County as well as significant parcels abutting Bear Mountain, Clarence Fahnestock, Goosepond Mountain, Harriman, Rockland Lake, and Schunnemunk Mountain State Parks.
"New York is home to unparalleled natural beauty, and with this new parkland, we will preserve the natural splendor of our state's landscape for future generations," Governor Cuomo said. "These scenic lands in the Hudson Highlands will allow New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore the outdoors while preserving the open space that helps make our communities cleaner, greener and more resilient for generations to come."
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “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. Our State Parks continue to grow and improve. I’m grateful to our partners in the open space community for protecting lands threatened by development and preserving it for future generations.”
President and CEO of the Open Space Institute Kim Elliman said, “Open Space Institute has a proud and successful tradition of protecting and preserving scenic, natural and historic open space landscape across New York State. These high demand Hudson Valley acquisitions through OSI and our partners along with Governor Cuomo and his visionary NY Parks 2020 initiative are providing more opportunities for public enjoyment, conserving habitats and sustaining communities. Whether it's providing $1.9 million to improve the Group Camps and Carriage Roads at Harriman State Park, opening up a new scenic corridor through the Black Rock Forest easement, forever protecting viewsheds along Harriman and Schunnemunk, rescuing precious lands from development at Goosepond, saving habitats at Roaring Brook or preserving the natural adventure near youth camps at Bear Mountain that will invite future generations to be our next open space stewards, OSI is excited to play a vital role in the environmental conscious momentum happening here in New York State."
The Black Rock Forest easement, donated to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by the Open Space Institute, helps create a publicly-accessible land connection between Storm King State Park and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, preserving a scenic 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.
Additionally, State Parks has reached agreement to purchase two other significant parcels from the Open State Institute: a 625.7 acre property on the western side of Harriman State Park with sweeping views of meadows, contiguous forestland and steep mountain ridges from, as well as 416 acres abutting Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, which offers ridge-top views of the Hudson Highlands to the east, and the Shawangunks and Catskills to the west.
Carter Strickland, New York State Director of The Trust for Public Land, said, “The Marydell property expands public access to Hook Mountain, and continues the legacy of the Sisters of Christian Doctrine of introducing children to nature. Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo, and the help of our partners in this effort, more people will hike to the summit for spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley, Hudson Highlands, the New NY Bridge, and New York City.”
Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson said,"Governor Cuomo has once again shown his unparalleled commitment to preserving the critical natural resources of the state and Hudson Valley with this dazzling set of acquisitions. They will make tremendous additions to state parks, enhancing experiences for residents and tourists amidst the region's world-class landscapes. Scenic Hudson is proud to have partnered with the Office of Parks to save a Girl Scout camp that provides unique experiences for more than 25,000 girls each year, while adding to Bear Mountain State Park.”
Ed Goodell, Executive Director of the New York/New JerseyTrailConference, which maintains the Highland Trail , said, “These key parcels 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 and opens more areas for all to enjoy the magnificent character that is the Hudson Valley."
Several recent acquisitions were made with the assistance of land trust organizations, including OSI, Scenic Hudson and the Trust for Public Land. Other open space projects include:
- 411 acres adjacent to the 1,558-acre Goosepond Mountain State Park provide new park access, help improve the multi-state Highlands Trail, and facilitate connections to surrounding open space. The site 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.
- 240 acres of land as well as a 113-acre conservation easement from Camp Addisone Boyce, a Girl Scout camp along the border of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks, acquired from Scenic Hudson.
- The 235-acre “Roaring Brook” property adjacent to the 14,000-acre Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park’s recreational offerings and helps ensure valuable plant and animal habitat for sensitive plants and animals, acquired from OSI.
- a 59-acre buffer for Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve.
- 30 acres adjacent to Rockland Lake, Hook Mountain and Nyack Beach State Parks in Rockland County. The property, formerly owned by the Sisters of Marydell—will enhance and protect the area’s natural beauty and improve connections between the existing state parks. This property was acquired through a partnership with the Trust for Public Land, which secured funding of $1 million toward the total purchase price.
Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund allowed State Parks to acquire the Goosepond Mountain parcel for $3.4 million; the Rockland property for $2.1 million, the western Harriman parcel for $3.6 million and the Harriman/Bear Mountain parcel and conservation easement for $2 million, the Schunnemunk Mountain acquisition cost is $806,000, the Fahnestock property for $800,000, and the Hudson Highlands property for $750,000.
Since the Governor took office in 2011, more than 9,500 acres of state parkland have been added in the Mid-Hudson Valley region, including the 1,250-acre Fishkill Ridge section of Hudson Highlands State Park, the 627-acre Sam’s Point, and other significant additions to Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
The additional park acreage underscores Governor Cuomo’s commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The 2017-18 State Budget includes $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, providing funding 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 more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which are visited by 69 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.