Huckleberry Ridge State Forest expanded

Open Space Institute and partners protect parcel that will expand Huckleberry Ridge State Forest

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  • Photo Jeff Simms/Open Space Institute The Open Space Institute and its partners, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Orange County Land Trust, have announced the protection of 435 acres of scenic forestland on the southern Shawangunk Ridge, close to New YorkþÄôs border with New Jersey. The parcel, which also includes meadows and four small ponds, is known as the Ridgeview property and is located in the Orange County towns of Deerpark and Greenville.

GREENVILLE — The Open Space Institute, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Orange County Land Trust have purchased 435 acres of scenic forestland on the southern Shawangunk Ridge, close to New York’s border with New Jersey, that will be added to the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest.

The parcel, which also includes meadows and four small ponds, is known as the Ridgeview property and is located in the Orange County towns of Deerpark and Greenville.

Once the property became available for purchase, the three organizations worked quickly to raise the $1.7 million purchase price. At a time when New York’s finances continue to be constrained, the groups combined forces to purchase a property that had long been targeted for protection by the DEC, the groups noted in the press release announcing the acquisition.

Jeff Simms of the Open Space Institute said the groups ultimately hope to sell the protected land to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as an addition to the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest for the same price they paid for it.

“There’s only so much nonprofits can do without a public partner,” he said.

All three organizations are active members of the Friends of New York’s Environment, a coalition working to restore funding to the Environmental Protection Fund, the state’s principal source of land conservation funding.

Far cry
The new use for the nine-mile stretch of land is a far cry from what had been planned in the past few years by the previous owner, Peter Carr of Chatham, N.J.

Terrance Nolan, vice president of conservation transactions at Open Space Institute, said the property was once envisioned as a biotech campus, then later slated for condominiums, but neither got off the ground due to a slumping economy and zoning hiccups.

“Preserving this land has been important for many years to Greenville area residents,” said state Sen. John Bonacic, who represents this part of Orange County. “It is my hope the land can ultimately be transferred to the state to ensure its preservation forever. I want to applaud Pete Carr for agreeing to this sale and the Open Space Institute and New York-New Jersey Trails for purchasing it.”

Shawangunk Ridge
Kathy Moser, the DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, called the purchase “(an) important conservation project. This acquisition protects the landscape features and natural communities of the southern Shawangunks and provides opportunities for an enhanced recreational trail system, including an improved route for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.”

The Shawangunk Ridge stretches for 50 miles from Kingston to the New Jersey border. Open Space Institute has focused its efforts there since its inception, protecting more than 27,000 acres along the ridge over the last quarter-century.

However, the area that includes the Ridgeview parcel—an approximately nine-mile stretch of ridge top running from Otisville south to Port Jervis—is the least protected stretch of the entire Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge in New York and New Jersey.

“This acquisition complements the conservation work we’ve been doing for more than two decades in the Shawangunks,” said Kim Elliman, the institute’s CEO and president. “This parcel in particular has been a conservation priority for some time, and we’re thankful to the partners that helped us complete this deal.”

The organizations ultimately hope to create a protected corridor along the length of the Shawangunk Ridge. Doing so would provide a passageway for wildlife and migrating raptors and allow a recreational trail to run the entire length of the ridge.

The Orange County Land Trust will manage the Ridgeview property until it is transferred to the DEC.

Open Space Institute
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships and analytical research. It has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, the institute has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.8 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia.

Visit for more information.

About the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest

This forest didn’t exist at all 10 years ago. It is located in the southern-most section of the Shawangunk Ridge, near the New York-New Jersey-

The total protected public land within the state forest to 1,510 acres. Camping is allowed as long as you are 150 feet away from any road, trail or water source.

The Southern Shawangunks is a remarkable story in that it is a nearly unbroken swath of forest land stretching for more than 22 miles along the southern Shawangunk Ridge in a rapidly developing portion of Sullivan and Orange counties. Over 9,000 acres of this area have been permanently protected by OSI.

All of the lands acquired by OSI and its partners over the years form a “ribbon” of wilderness running from Ellenville to Wurtsboro that include pitch pine barrens, cliffs, waterfalls, wetlands, rock talus and slab, and a portion of the largest contiguous chestnut oak forest in New York.

The Huckleberry Ridge State Forest is the administrative unit for lands purchased between Port Jervis and Otisville in the towns of Greenville and Deer Park, Orange County. It is about 1,500 acres in size with plans to grow to almost 2,500 acres in size – which will make it one of the larger state forests. It is also a lengthy conservation corridor connecting two population centers – the City of Port Jervis and the hamlet of Otisville – with the crest of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Trail Uses: Hiking
Dogs: Dogs off leash

Trail Miles: 11 miles
Three hiking trails can be found in the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest: the Shawangunk Ridge Trail, Lenape Ridge Trail and Minisink Trail. The state forest and NY-NJTC land can be found both north and south of Interstate 84.

Directions: Parking is available at the end of Hawthorn Boulevard in Greenville New York.

Parking is also available along Route 6 at the Deerpark - Greenville town line. The trail head for the Minisink Trail leaves from this location.

Source: The Open Space Institute and New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

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