Groups Partner to Protect Gunks Ridge Parcel

Date: 
02/20/2012
Source: 
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
PC Region: 
West Hudson

Groups Partner to Protect Gunks Ridge Parcel

The Orange County Legislature, voting February 2, unanimously approved the sale of an 87-acre parcel in the Town of Greenville to several conservation groups—Open Space Institute (OSI), New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Orange County Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy.

The parcel had been up for tax sale. The conservation groups will acquire the Greenville property for $40,000, a price higher than taxes owed the county, with Open Space Conservancy, the land acquisition affiliate of Open Space Institute, taking title.

Located near Huckleberry Ridge State Park and along the southern portion of the Shawangunk Ridge, the Greenville property will be preserved as open space, accessible to the public for passive recreation. It comprises relatively undisturbed forest that will become part of a 25-mile, 10,000-acre greenway the conservation groups are working to create on the ridge. This green corridor of open space and interconnecting trails—including the long-distance Shawangunk Ridge Trail--when complete, will stretch from Minnewaska State Park in New Paltz to High Point State Park in New Jersey, and connect to the Appalachian Trail.

Ed Goodell, Trail Conference Executive Director, notes the planned greenway along the Shawangunk Ridge, when complete, “will link to the two largest tracts of protected lands in the region--the 330,000-acre Catskill Park and the 140,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. “We are delighted to be able to add this 87-acre property towards our goal of creating this green corridor for public recreation and enjoyment,” Goodell says. The ultimate goal is for the property to be added to the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest.

The Trail Conference was instrumental in creating the now 1,500-acre Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, also in the Town of Greenville, transferring 389-acres to the State of New York last June. The organization worked closely with the Trust for Public Land and the NYS DEC on the first 527 acres nearly ten years ago, then purchased and transferred an additional 980 acres to the State. The Trail Conference focus is to protect a green corridor for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.

The most recent acquisition in Greenville appeared on the 2011 Orange County Tax Sale auction roll for nonpayment of property taxes but did not receive any bid offers. It was then pulled from the auction roll by Orange County Executive Ed Diana, in keeping with legislation enacted in 2010 at the request of Orange County Land Trust. Under this legislation, properties with high conservation, recreational or scenic value that appear on the county auction list can be pulled by the county executive and offered for sale, with legislative approval, to local, regional and/or national conservation organizations.

 “This is an innovative and inexpensive way for conservation groups to partner with the county to continue to protect valuable lands here in Orange County when funding for land protection is scarce,” said Jim Delaune, Executive Director of OCLT.

Financial support fro Trail Conference work on this project was provided by the Environmental Protection Fund and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, a collaboration between the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance.