OCLT unveils ‘Save Orange County’s Last Wilderness’ campaign

Port Jervis. The campaign will focus on protecting land and water resources in the greater Port Jervis area.

| 29 Apr 2024 | 03:07

Orange County Land Trust has announced the launch of its “Save Orange County’s Last Wilderness” initiative, a multi-year campaign focusing on the protection of land and water resources within the Port Jervis and greater Delaware River watersheds in western Orange County.

According to OCLT, the “Last Wilderness” region spans roughly 35,000 acres in the town of Deerpark and largely comprises lands important for maintaining drinking water quality, sustaining healthy populations of wildlife, flood resilience, and recreation.

Orange County Land Executive Director Trust Jim Delaune said, “It truly is Orange County’s last remaining wilderness; the landscapes outside of this area are primarily fragmented, established parkland, or built, so there is no other region in Orange County that comes close in comparison.”

Delaune added, “The wilderness region, and its diversity of rivers, trails, and outdoor activities, has a national park type of appeal when looked at as a whole. Sitting at the gateway of all of this, the city of Port Jervis stands to benefit tremendously.”

Area business Fox N Hare Brewing, expressed support for OCLT’s efforts. “Embracing this wilderness region makes sense for Port on many levels, especially from a business and branding perspective,” said David Krantz, co-owner of Fox N Hare Brewing. “Outdoor recreation and tourism in turn supports our businesses and growing hospitality sector, and by protecting these wild landscapes, we can keep the cycle of tourism spending and increased tax revenue going indefinitely.”

The campaign has also received support from organizations such as Backcountry Hunters & Anglers – New York Chapter, Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Eastern Waters Council of Fly Fishers International, Friends of the Upper Delaware River, Open Space Institute, Outdoor Club of Port Jervis, Trout Unlimited, and Upper Delaware Council.

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, “Open space preservation is usually looked at as a quality of life issue, but as we are seeing in the city of Port Jervis and town of Deerpark, it can be a catalyst for outdoor recreation, tourism, and economic development. I am proud to work alongside the Orange County Land Trust to conserve this wilderness and elevate western Orange County as a top destination for travel and tourism.”

“Port Jervis takes great pride in being ‘the city in the country,’” said Port Jervis Mayor Dominic Cicalese. “While much has changed since the days of the New York and Erie railroad, D&H Canal, and our city’s early beginnings, our wilderness backdrop hasn’t, so I find it remarkable that we’re viewing and enjoying the same beauty today as those who built Port Jervis centuries ago.”

OCLT plans on participating in community events and hosting outings for the public to promote their efforts. As part of the campaign, OCLT also looks to raise funds to support their land protection work. Toward that end, First Federal Savings of Middletown made an inaugural contribution to help kick off the effort by making a $7,000 contribution to OCLT.

“This campaign requires our long-term commitment and getting there will take a steady stream of generous giving from the community,” said Delaune. “Our sincere gratitude goes out to First Federal Savings of Middletown for giving this campaign some early steam so we can hit the ground running.”

The campaign’s website was donated by Devine Design. For those interested in learning more about the initiative or to contribute, visit SaveOCWilderness.org.