Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

January 10, 2019

New York State Announces 346-Acre Donation to Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Donation to the State Made by David Rockefeller's Estate 

Protects Public Access to Historic Carriage Roads, Keeps Landscape Intact 

Preserve Will Cooperatively Manage Land with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to Favor Native Species

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a 346-acre donation to Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pocantico Hills, which was gifted to the state by David Rockefeller's estate. The acquisition brings the Preserve's total acreage to 1,771 acres stretching from the Hudson River to the Taconic Parkway, and ensures the landscape will remain intact and open to the public.

"New York is home to some of the best parks and outdoor facilities in the country, and David Rockefeller's donation to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve will serve as another tremendous asset to our state," Governor Cuomo said. "I am grateful for this gift to the people of New York, and will continue working to maintain and protect our state parks for visitors and New Yorkers to enjoy."

"This generous donation by the David Rockefeller estate will expand the Rockefeller State Park Preserve and ensure the preservation of the park for future public use," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Public spaces are vital in communities across the state to enhance quality of life and provide individuals and families with a great place to go to gather and play."

David Rockefeller allowed visitors to the Preserve to enjoy the many historic carriage roads through his adjacent Hudson Pines Farm, and this donation will ensure these recreational pathways remain accessible to the public. The gift builds on the Rockefeller family's longstanding support for its namesake park, adding to the 1,400 acres of parkland the Rockefeller family has donated since the park's creation in 1983. In addition, David Rockefeller donated $4 million to establish an operating endowment supporting the Preserve in 2015.

The adjacent Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture also received a gift of nearly 93 acres from the David Rockefeller Estate. Stone Barns has agreed to convey a conservation easement to State Parks, which will place their 93 acres in protected status. The Preserve and Stone Barns intend to cooperatively manage the network of fields to favor native species, such as bobolinks, and to use rotational livestock grazing to enhance grassland and soil health, carbon sequestration, and water retention.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve is comprised of a significant portion of the Rockefeller family's fabled Pocantico Hills estates. Rockefeller State Park Preserve and several neighboring properties were recently listed on the State Register of Historic Places and advanced to the National Register, designating the Preserve and several neighboring properties which were once the formerestates of John D. and William Rockefeller, as the "Rockefeller Pocantico Hills Estate Historic District."

Rockefeller State Park Preserve attracts nearly 300,000 visitors per year to walk, run, ride horses, and watch wildlife. It is a designated "Important Bird Area" by National Audubon.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "David Rockefeller's generous donation of lands from his Hudson Pines Farm to the Preserve ensures that this scenic and historic landscape will remain undisturbed and open to the public for generations. Our state park system owes so much the generosity and civic mindedness of its citizens - and the Rockefeller family is foremost among them. I am tremendously thankful for this gift."

Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, Chair of the New York State Council of Parks, said, "This wonderful gift from my Uncle David Rockefeller will ensure this beautiful landscape stays intact and open to the public - so countless walkers, runners, riders and nature lovers can continue to enjoy it for generations to come. I'm also happy to think of all the birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife that will benefit from this gift. It is a great example of private stewardship that, paired with Governor Cuomo's strong commitment to parks and the environment, is reinvigorating New York's exceptional state park system."

George Gumina, President, Friends of Rockefeller State Park Preserve, said, "We are so happy these lands have been turned over to State of New York and will continue to be open for everyone to come and enjoy. In addition, we are thrilled with the recent historic designation and look forward to the carriage roads being an enduring legacy of the Rockefeller Family."

Jill Isenbarger, CEO, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, said, "Stone Barns Center would not exist today had it not been for Mr. Rockefeller's unbounded vision for a hub of regenerative agriculture and farm-driven cuisine on this land. His extraordinary leadership and philanthropic commitment to this vision has made Stone Barns Center's work and impact possible. We are all forever grateful to him. Now, thanks also to Mr. Rockefeller's vision, the park preserve and the Center have an extraordinary opportunity to collaborate in stewarding these lands to the highest ecological and agricultural standards, for the benefit of future generations. We are grateful to have worked with New York State to develop a conservation action plan to guide the stewardship of this incredible public resource."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making an historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. Since the program's inception, State Parks has acquired more than 16,000 acres, improving access and providing buffers to state parks, trails and historic sites.