Open Space In­sti­tute pur­chases largest re­main­ing tract of pri­vately held open space on Shawan­gunk Ridge

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Free­man staff

The Open Space In­sti­tute has ac­quired a 615-acre ad­di­tion to the Sam’s Point Pre­serve por­tion of Minnewaska State Park Pre­serve, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease is­sued Mon­day by the in­sti­tute.

The $621,000 pur­chase of the largest re­main­ing tract of pri­vately held open space on the Shawan­gunk Ridge is ex­pected to pro­tect scenic wa­ter­falls flow­ing through the pre­serve.

The “South Es­carp­ment” prop­erty — vis­i­ble through­out much of the Hud­son River Valley — is ad­ja­cent to the El­lenville ice caves and will en­hance trail ac­cess to Sam’s Point via the east­ern slope of the Shawan­gunk Ridge, the re­lease stated.

It is the 17th pur­chase by the Open Space In­sti­tute and the sec­ond-largest in the Sam’s Point area of Minnewaska State Park Pre­serve since 1991, bring­ing the to­tal of lands pro­tected by the in­sti­tute at Sam’s Point to more than 10,000 acres, in­clud­ing nearly all of the area’s

pitch pine bar­rens, ac­cord­ing to the in­sti­tute.

The in­sti­tute ex­pects to hold the prop­erty un­til it can be ac­quired by the state.

In an­nounc­ing the ac­qui­si­tion, the in­sti­tute stated that its ex­pan­sion ini­tia­tives have made Minnewaska the third-largest state park in New York.

“The suc­cess­ful con­ser­va­tion of the South Es­carp­ment prop­erty will sig­nif­i­cantly en­rich op­por­tu­ni­ties for out­doors en­thu­si­asts and help pro­tect the unique pine bar­rens ecosys­tem en­joyed by so many,” said Kim El­li­man, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Open Space In­sti­tute. “We are thank­ful to the .... state Of­fice of Parks, Recre­ation and His­toric Preser­va­tion, and proud of our role in build­ing this spec­tac­u­lar park.”

Said Parks Com­mis­sioner Rose Har­vey, “New York state is for­tu­nate to have the Open Space In­sti­tute’s sus­tained com­mit­ment to the stew­ard­ship of the Shawan­gunks, and I am grate­ful for this lat­est ef­fort to pro­tect th­ese unique re­sources for the ben­e­fit of New York state res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.”

The South Es­carp­ment prop­erty has been iden­ti­fied in the New York Open Space Plan since 1992 as an ac­qui­si­tion pri­or­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the Open Space In­sti­tute, some 45 land trans­ac­tions to­tal­ing $50 mil­lion over the past 30 years have more than dou­bled the size of the state park pre­serve.

The in­sti­tute and state of­fi­cials in 2015 an­nounced plans for a $7.3 mil­lion project that will in­clude a new, 6,000-square-foot visitor cen­ter. The in­sti­tute has com­mit­ted to rais­ing $3 mil­lion in pri­vate funds for the cen­ter.

Sit­u­ated atop the Shawan­gunk Ridge in Ul­ster County, the 23,000-acre park pre­serve fea­tures panoramic views of the Hud­son High­lands, Catskill Moun­tains and the farm­land of the Wal­lkill and Ron­d­out val­leys. It also fea­tures lakes and wa­ter­falls and is a rock-climb­ing lo­ca­tion. The pre­serve has 35 miles of car­riage roads and nearly 40 miles of foot­paths, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.


Au­tumn view From Ver­keerderkill Falls, Minnewaska State Park Pre­serve.

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