LAND BUY ADDS 615 ACRES
Open Space Institute purchases largest remaining tract of privately held open space on Shawangunk Ridge
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.