Acquisition Expands Trails, Protects Habitat in Hudson Valley
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the addition of 400 acres to Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County. The property, purchased from the Open Space Institute, will expand year-round trail-based recreation and protect natural habitat in the Hudson Valley. Now at more than 3,300 acres, Schunnemunk State Park offers ridge-top views of the Hudson Highlands to the east, and the Shawangunks and Catskills to the west. The new parcel will expand of the region's recreational trail network, preserve scenic views and protect the area from overdevelopment.
"New York has a long, rich history of environmental stewardship and protecting and preserving New York's natural resources is more important now than ever before," Governor Cuomo said. "By expanding Schunnemunk State Park, we offer visitors and Orange County residents alike the chance to explore the Hudson Valley's stunning scenic beauty now and for generations to come."
The area is currently a scenic favorite for many long-distance hikers traveling on the 150-mile Highlands Trail from the Delaware to the Hudson River and the 357-mile Long Path from the George Washington Bridge to Thacher State Park in Albany County. Located in the Moodna Creek Watershed area, which supplies drinking water to Orange County, the property's conservation furthers several long-term open space planning and protection efforts in the area, such as the Moodna Creek Watershed Conservation and Management Plan, the Orange County Open Space Plan and the Southern Walkill Biodiversity Plan.
"These scenic lands not only offer tremendous recreational opportunities in the region, they contribute to clean air and water," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "New York is fortunate to have a Governor so committed to protecting the environment and promoting parkland, as well as the partnership of the Open Space Institute in conserving our state's precious lands."
"Over the past 21 years and through six transactions totaling 2,760 acres, OSI has been on the ground, creating and expanding Schunnemunk State Park for public benefit and enjoyment. This latest addition to Schunnemunk expands recreational opportunities, supports wildlife habitat and protects clean water, in one of the state's fastest growing regions," said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. "This project underscores the importance of the New York's Environmental Protection Fund in protecting the state's vital natural resources, and we are grateful for the continued support for the fund by Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature. We also thank The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation for their support in protecting the land."
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said, "Schunnemunk State Park is a jewel of the Hudson Valley and with the addition of 400 acres to this great natural resource, we help to protect the land for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to preserving New York's vital resources for residents and visitors alike."
Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund allowed for State Parks to acquire the parcel for $806,000. The 2017-18 State Budget includes $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, providing record funding for open space protection, parkland stewardship, environmental justice, invasive species removal, 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.
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. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors support $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Brett Cole