Conservation

Newly proected land advances wildlife connection between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park


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  • Photo provided by the Open Space Institute This is a view of one of two properties within within an ecologically sensitive corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park that is now permanently conserved.




  • Two properties, totaling 90 acres, within an ecologically sensitive corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park in Orange County are now preserved, thanks to the Open Space Institute, the Black Rock Forest Consortium and Orange County Land Trust.



— Land within an ecologically sensitive corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park in Orange County are now permanently conserved, thanks to the Open Space Institute, the Black Rock Forest Consortium and Orange County Land Trust.

The acquisition provides important links for future recreation and habitat corridors, and preserves scenic views for the public, according to the press release from the Open Space Institute announcing the initiative.

'Fastest developing portion of the state'As part of this conservation effort, two properties totaling 90 acres will be permanently protected. Both properties are located in the middle of the subject area for the Hudson Highlands Connectivity Project, a long-term conservation plan advanced by the three organizations for protecting this vital block of mature forests as a wildlife corridor.

“Orange County is one of the fastest-developing portions of New York, and also one of the state’s most ecologically diverse regions,” said Kim Elliman, the president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “Conservation of the properties not only preserves recreational access in the region, it also protects invaluable plant and animal habitat."

Bill Schuster, the executive director of Black Rock Forest Consortium, said that after completing field assessments of these properties and reviewing regional modeling done by The Nature Conservancy and others, "we found that these parcels are of value to breeding birds, carnivores, and wetlands wildlife and contribute to both landscape and habitat diversity."

$294,000 purchaseTo permanently protect the properties, the Open Space Institute conveyed the first 43-acre section to Black Rock Forest Consortium, which will own and manage the property as an addition to its 3,800-acre forest preserve.

The Open Space Institute also conveyed a conservation easement on the second, 47-acre property to be held and monitored by Orange County Land Trust.

Together, the institute and the consortium funded the entire $294,000 purchase of the two properties.

The properties build on the Open Space Institute’s 2014 acquisition of a conservation easement on the nearly 4,000-acre Black Rock Forest.

Part of a larger effortIn 2016, the institute donated the easement, valued at $1.3 million, to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission to help create a publicly accessible land connection between Storm King State Park and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park; preserve a scenic viewshed corridor; and connect 60 miles of recreational trails and 8,600 acres of open space.

With the same transaction, the institute and the consortium dedicated $1 million to the protection of key buffers on the western edge of Black Rock Forest.

Stretching between Black Rock and Schunnemunk, the Hudson Highlands Connectivity Project comprises an important connection of mature forests and wildlife. These lands, several hundred acres of which are still privately owned, feature 95 percent cover of mature deciduous forest and include high quality waterways.

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