With state acquisition of a significant infill parcel, hikers are now able to walk only on state land from less than a mile off the Sawkill Road next to the Thruway westward several miles to within a stone’s throw from the Zena Road in Woodstock. A public information meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday, May 7 at the Senate House Garage at 4 North Font Street in Kingston at 6 p.m. to discuss efforts to improve the trail network connecting the lands open to the public in the 3000-acre-plus Bluestone Wild Forest.
In February, the Open Space Institute, an intermediary environmental organization that works closely with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, purchased the 208-acre parcel owned by the Aldulaimi family for $659,000. OSI has greater flexibility and can act faster than the state government, and often, as in this case, buys land intended for resale to the state. OSI says it is developing a plan to create a six-mile multi-use trail network for the state and OSI holdings. Other local advocacy groups are also involved.
In a press release, DEC commissioner Basil Seggos thanked OSI for its role. “Realizing the potential for an outstanding trail network in an area so rich in natural and cultural resources that is so close to Kingston is an outstanding achievement that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come,” he said.
The purchase provides a land link between the two major parts of the Bluestone Wild Forest, the Jockey Hill section to the Kingston side and the Onteora Lake section to the western side. The new acquisition, which will expand the state holding in the Onteora Lake section, will allow greater trail connections to the other section east of Morey Hill Road.
Though contained within the quadrangle created by Zena Road on the west, Sawkill Road to the north and east, and Route 28 to the south, the public land is almost all in its interior. The state Onteora Lake parking lot on Route 28 has been up to now the most known access point, located within a very short walk of the 16.5-acre lake. One gentle trail leads to Pickerel Pond, another water body. There’s a lot of evidence in the forest holdings of bluestone quarrying, and many attractions of geological, botanical and archeological interest.
So now it’s time for more comprehensive trail improvement. The informational meeting at the Senate House Garage will give the public to learn about the plans and to provide input about outdoor recreational opportunities. The plan, the organizing groups say, “sets the stage for creating regional connectivity of protected lands and permanently protecting a scenic, forested parcel for public enjoyment and recreation.”