Latest Land Acquisitions Will Add Buffers and Trails to Seven State Parks in the Mid-Hudson Valley Through an Investment of $20.6 Million in State Funding
New Land Will Boost Tourism in the Mid-Hudson Valley Region
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the 22nd proposal of his 2020 State of the State agenda - preserving 4,000 acres of open space in the Mid-Hudson Valley. These latest acquisitions will expand seven different state parks, adding new trails and viewpoints, as well as conserving valuable ecological corridors. The acquisitions represent an investment of $20.6 million in state funding from the Environmental Protection Fund and Hudson Highlands Conservation Act.
"The Mid-Hudson Valley is home to some of our state's most breathtaking natural resources and open space, and we're committed to ensuring these views and landscapes are protected for generations to come," Governor Cuomo said. "These investments will allow us to add ecologically significant lands and new trails to seven state parks across the region, further promoting tourism and building on our efforts to strengthen this world-class outdoor destination."
State Parks will invest $11.4 million in Environmental Protection Fund and Hudson Highlands Conservation Act funding to six parks beginning in 2020, including:
- Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve - 965 acres. The new lands include two parcels: a 20-acre parcel that will create new trail routes, provide new views of West Point and the Hudson River, and connect Arden Point on the Hudson River with the remainder of Hudson Highlands State Park; and the 945-acre Scofield Ridge, which will protect the largest remaining private inholding in the Hudson Highlands, allow a public trail with breathtaking views and safeguard a significant ecological and biodiversity corridor through the 8,900-acre park in Dutchess and Putnam Counties.
- Minnewaska State Park Preserve - 633 acres. This includes several parcels and is a major addition to the northeastern section of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, protecting a wilderness gorge through which the Peterskill stream flows and several rocky summits, including Dickie Barre, Ronde Barre and portions of Rock Hill. The assemblage will increase recreational opportunities on the north end of the park and protect important views both from the park and the adjacent Rondout Valley. The acreage will also protect important wildlife habitat and prevent fragmentation of the forest in the northern Shawangunk Mountains. The 24,000-acre park in Ulster County is the third largest state park in New York.
- Schunnemunk State Park - 158 acres. This major addition to Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County will provide a critical link to an anticipated public trail between Schunnemunk State Park and Storm King Arts Center, while protecting Moodna Creek watershed. Schunnemunk State Park, now more than 4,000 acres, offers 360-degree views of adjacent valleys, the distant Hudson River and surrounding forest and farmlands.
- Sterling Forest State Park - 112 acres. This land will create access to the 22,000-acre Sterling Forest State Park and to the Appalachian Trail from the western side of the park.
- Rockefeller State Park Preserve -1 acre. The parcel will remedy the longstanding lack of a formal entry to Rockwood Hall, a historic and impressive riverside section of the nearly 1,800-acre preserve in Westchester County, allowing appropriate signage and parking for public access.
- Fahnestock State Park - 150 acres. This property will protect natural resources as well as connect the park to a local Scout Reservation that has a trail open to the public. The state is acquiring this through a partnership with the Hudson Highlands Land Trust.
The preservation of nearly 2,000 acres of open space in the region is already underway with previously acquired parcels, including some of the largest tracts of privately held land in the Shawangunk Mountains and Hudson Highlands west of the Hudson River, including:
- Schunnemunk State Park - 808 acres. These lands permanently protect open space that had been targeted for major residential development and extend a significant conservation corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain. New York State Parks has entered into a 10-year management agreement with the Open Space Institute to maintain the 702-acre "Legacy Ridge," a forested parcel in Woodbury. OSI will manage the property, create a trailhead and add trails for public use and enjoyment.
- Minnewaska State Park Preserve - 740 acres. The acquisitions from the Open Space Institute on the southeast edge of the Preserve include the largest remaining tract of privately-held open space on the Shawangunk Ridge and help preserve globally rare pitch pine barrens that occur at Sam's Point as well as a stretch of the Verkeerderkill. At Minnewaska State Park, OSI's conveyance brings its total additions to the park to more than 13,000 acres.
- Harriman State Park - 404 acres. The property is located less than a mile from the Harriman Metro-North train station and allows for greater public access to the park. The property also connects to the Long Path, a celebrated long-distance hiking trail which runs just east of the property and links to a four-mile network of carriage roads and trails originally by the Harriman family, which were protected by OSI in 2017.
- Hudson Highlands State Park - 30 acres. The parcel expands natural resource protection and enhances access to Mount Beacon and Fishkill Ridge.
These acquisitions were made possible by $9.2 million in open space funding from the Environmental Protection Fund and Highlands Conservation Act funding.
The additional park acreage underscores Governor Cuomo's commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. Since the Governor took office in 2011, State Parks have added more than 15,000 acres of new open space and are undergoing over $900 million in capital upgrades as part of the NY Parks 2020 initiative.