State to Preserve 4,000 Acres of Parkland in Hudson Valley

Real Estate In-Depth | January 2020

Hudson Highlands State Park, Cold Spring, NY

ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Jan. 5 as part of his State of the State message to be presented on Jan. 8, the state intends to preserve 4,000 acres of open space in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

The latest open space acquisitions will expand a host of state parks, add new trails and viewpoints, as well as conserve ecological corridors. The acquisitions represent an investment of $20.6 million in state funding from the Environmental Protection Fund and Hudson Highlands Conservation Act.

“The Mid-Hudson Valley is home to some of our state’s most breathtaking natural resources and open space, and we’re committed to ensuring these views and landscapes are protected for generations to come,” Gov. Cuomo said. “These investments will allow us to add ecologically significant lands and new trails to seven state parks across the region, further promoting tourism and building on our efforts to strengthen this world-class outdoor destination.”

State Parks will invest $11.4 million in Environmental Protection Fund and Hudson Highlands Conservation Act funding to six parks beginning in 2020, including:

Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve – 965 acres. The new lands include two parcels: a 20-acre parcel that will create new trail routes, provide new views of West Point and the Hudson River, and connect Arden Point on the Hudson River with the remainder of Hudson Highlands State Park; and the 945-acre Scofield Ridge, which will protect the largest remaining private inholding in the Hudson Highlands, allow a public trail with breathtaking views and safeguard a significant ecological and biodiversity corridor through the 8,900-acre park in Dutchess and Putnam counties.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve – 633 acres. The purchase includes several parcels and is a major addition to the northeastern section of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, protecting a wilderness gorge through which the Peterskill stream flows and several rocky summits, including Dickie Barre, Ronde Barre and portions of Rock Hill. The assemblage will increase recreational opportunities on the north end of the park and protect important views both from the park and the adjacent Rondout Valley. The acreage will also protect important wildlife habitat and prevent fragmentation of the forest in the northern Shawangunk Mountains. The 24,000-acre park in Ulster County is the third largest state park in New York.

Schunnemunk State Park – 158 acres. This major addition to Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County will provide a critical link to an anticipated public trail between Schunnemunk State Park and Storm King Arts Center, while protecting the Moodna Creek watershed.

Sterling Forest State Park – 112 acres. This land will create access to the 22,000-acre Sterling Forest State Park and to the Appalachian Trail from the western side of the park.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve -1 acre. The parcel will remedy the longstanding lack of a formal entry to Rockwood Hall, a historic and impressive riverside section of the nearly 1,800-acre preserve in Westchester County, allowing appropriate signage and parking for public access.

Fahnestock State Park – 150 acres. This property will protect natural resources as well as connect the park to a local Scout Reservation that has a trail open to the public. The state is acquiring this through a partnership with the Hudson Highlands Land Trust.

The preservation of nearly 2,000 acres of open space in the region is already underway with previously acquired parcels, including some of the largest tracts of privately held land in the Shawangunk Mountains and Hudson Highlands west of the Hudson River, including: 808 acres at Schunnemunk State Park, 740 acres at Minnewaska State Park Preserve, 404 acres at Harriman State Park and 30 acres at the Hudson Highlands State Park.