December 19, 2013
State partners with conservation groups to expand Hudson Highlands and Fahnestock State Parks
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and Scenic Hudson today announced an agreement to add nearly 1,250 acres of open space along Fishkill Ridge in Dutchess County to Hudson Highlands State Park. The agreement builds on the recent addition of 63 acres to Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, expanding popular hiking opportunities and open space protection in the Hudson Highlands.
"The Hudson Highlands are a nationally important scenic landscape, providing tremendous recreational opportunities and contributing to clean air and water, and protection of these lands strengthen Governor Andrew Cuomo's outstanding conservation legacy," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "I am grateful to our partners for their work in securing these spectacular lands for the public, and that New York is able to draw on resources such as the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) funding and the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to preserve our state's wonderful places and improve our park system."
"This project demonstrates the benefits of Governor Andrew Cuomo's economic development strategy—recognizing that protecting the state's fabulous natural resources and job creation go hand-in-hand. This is a foundation of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and its 'green circle' strategy to focus resources on the Hudson Valley's great natural, historic and cultural treasures," said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. "Great thanks also to State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey for her leadership and understanding of how much enjoyment and inspiration this landscape will give to residents and visitors alike. The preserve is close to an urban center and mass transit but offers a true wilderness experience. Scenic Hudson is honored to be part of this important conservation agreement."
The agreement calls for State Parks to purchase the Fishkill Ridge acreage from Scenic Hudson with nearly $1.8 million in HCA funding and $250,000 from the EPF. Scenic Hudson is donating more than $1.8 million worth of land value toward the sale. Fishkill Ridge offers 11.5 miles of challenging but well-marked wilderness trails that allow visitors to walk beside a stream to a waterfall, scramble up rocks and step onto outcroppings affording some of the most breathtaking long-range vistas in the Hudson Highlands. The purchase also includes historic North Beacon Mountain, from whose summit signal fires kept George Washington informed of British troop movements in the Hudson Highlands during the Revolutionary War. For much of the 20th century, this mountain was the site of the world's steepest incline railway. In addition, there are connections to trails in Scenic Hudson's Mount Beacon Park and other existing trails in Hudson Highlands State Park.
"Fishkill Ridge is one of the Hudson Valley's iconic landscapes, visible from miles around and offering the public some of the best hiking in the region. Throughout the year, people come from New York City and all over to enjoy this remarkable resource, which also is contributing to the economic vitality of nearby communities such as Beacon and Cold Spring," said Steve Rosenberg, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust.
Additionally, State Parks finalized the purchase of two parcels totaling 63 acres added to Clarence Fahnestock State Park in Putnam County. The $1.3 million in purchases were funded with equal shares from the HCA and EPF, and completed with the assistance of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust and the Open Space Institute.
"OSI has partnered with the state over two decades to significantly expand both Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks," said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. "It has been a longtime goal for OSI and our local and state partners to link these two parks, and with both of these acquisitions finalized, the creation of an entirely publicly accessible hiking corridor is now even closer."
"The Hudson Highlands Land Trust was pleased to partner with OPRHP in acquiring the 50 acre Jaycox Pond property, and hold it until HCA and EPF funding were available for the State to complete this important addition to Fahnestock State Park," said Andy Chmar, Executive Director. "Collaborative projects like this illustrate a continued commitment to enhance our state parks through partnerships with local and regional land conservation organizations, for the benefit of residents and visitors alike."
The acreage expands the boundary of Fahnestock State Park west of Jaycox Road in Philipstown, helping to further close the gap between Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks and includes the 15-acre Jaycox Pond. The properties will help realize the goal of creating a northern hiking corridor from the Hudson River to the Appalachian Trail.The acreage adds to the lands protected by State Parks in the Hudson Highlands, including existing 16,300 acres within Fahnestock, 7,400 within Hudson Highlands and 1,100 in Wonder Lake, providing abundant opportunities for hiking, camping, boating, hunting, fishing, birding and more.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. A recent study by Parks & Trails New York found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.