The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced its acquisition of two forested parcels of land adjacent to the Catskill Park’s Sundown Wild Forest in the Town of Olive. The properties, totaling 871 acres, have the potential to serve as an eastern access point to the 3000-foot-high Ashokan High Point hiking trail.
The land was purchased from the Golden family, which has owned it since William T. Golden began acquiring land in the Catskills more than 50 years ago. Once the properties are transferred from OSI to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), it will be one of the largest additions to the Catskill Park in recent years.
Land acquired by OSI adds to the system of contiguous conserved lands in the region, considered key to storing and absorbing carbon. The properties are located in the Ashokan Reservoir watershed and will continue to protect the cleanliness of New York City’s drinking water, as water is naturally filtered and cleaned by the land surrounding the reservoir.
“Strategic land conservation goes hand-in-hand with providing healthy communities safe, reliable drinking water and places to play,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI.
If the DEC chooses to develop trails on the land, they will also provide recreation opportunities for hikers, taking pressure off existing hiking areas. In combination with the 260-acre Adams Property and the 215-acre Trippel property, OSI has protected more than 1340 acres in the Ashokan watershed for addition to the Catskill Forest Preserve in the last few years. The OSI-conserved properties offer views of the Shawangunk Ridge, Ashokan High Point, Little High Point, and the Ashokan Reservoir. In addition, the land includes prime habitat for wildlife, including nesting sites for birds of prey.
The OSI has a history of protecting land in partnership with the conservation-minded Golden family. In 2014, OSI secured the Hudson Highlands’ largest-ever conservation easement on Black Rock Forest, originally protected by William T. Golden. OSI then donated the Black Rock easement to the State of New York, guaranteeing public access to nearly 60 miles of hiking trails.++