FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 14, 2006
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF MINNEWASKA STATE PARK
2,518 Acre Acquisition in Ulster County Protects Valuable Open Space Along
the Shawangunk Mountains
Governor George E. Pataki today announced that Minnewaska State Park
Preserve, located in Ulster County, will be expanded with the purchase of
2,518 acres of new open space. The new land comprises the scenic Awosting
Reserve property located in the Towns of Gardiner, Warwarsing, and
Shawangunk, which offers spectacular views of the Shawangunk Mountain ridge
and had been slated for development.
"The expansion of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County marks
a tremendous achievement in our continuing efforts to protect open space,"
Governor Pataki said. "For years the Awosting Reserve property had been up
for possible development, which would have jeopardized this natural
resource. I'm pleased that we were able to preserve these scenic lands, and
ensure that the 'Gunks', one of the great treasures in the Hudson Valley,
continue to be available for future generations of New Yorkers."
Senator John J. Bonacic said, "This is a great day for our Senate District.
For years, the people of this region have been fighting the overdevelopment
of the Ridge and have passionately demonstrated their desire to preserve
what brought so many of us here to begin with, including myself. For
sometime there have been bumper stickers in my district that say, 'Save the
Ridge'. Today, that message has changed: We are Saving the Ridge."
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said, "The Shawangunk Ridge is known to be one of
the most important sites for bio-diversity conservation and is recognized
for having the most complex and environmentally significant ecosystems in
the United States, if not the entire planet. The Awosting Preserve will now
be protected forever, not just due to the work of the Governor and myself,
but because of the scores of concerned citizens who stood up to save the
Ridge from development."
Assemblyman Thomas J. Kirwan said, "This is a great resolution to the
problem. It satisfies the rights to private property and the rights to the
public to keep this environmental jewel intact."
The Awosting Reserve and properties along the Shawangunk ridge are
identified as priority projects in the state's Open Space Plan. The state
purchased the parkland from the Trust for Public Land who negotiated the
agreement along with the Open Space Institute. The $17 million purchase is
being supported through the state's Environmental Protection Fund. The
Awosting Reserve occupies the southern slopes leading up to both the
Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserves.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is situated on the dramatic Shawangunk
Mountain ridge that rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The terrain
is rugged and rocky, blanketed by dense hardwood forest encircling two
lakes. Clear streams cut into valleys, incising sheer cliffs and ledges and
emerging in waterfalls with miles of carriageways and trails, all offering
beautiful scenic vistas and views of the nearby Catskill Mountains and
Hudson Highlands. Activities at the park include hiking, biking,
rock-climbing, scuba-diving, horseback riding, cross-country skiing,
swimming, picnicking and boating.
Trust for Public Land Senior Vice President Rose Harvey said, "The loss of
this land to development would have been a tragedy - it would have forever
changed the face of the ridge. I couldn't imagine a more fitting capstone to
Governor Pataki's work to protect the Shawangunk Ridge. This is a major
victory for the state and all the organizations and individuals who have
spent years working together to protect this unique resource."
Open Space Institute President Joe Martens said, "The Awosting Reserve is
the holy grail of the Shawangunks and OSI is proud to have played a
supporting role in its protection. Governor Pataki and the staff from The
Trust for Public Land deserve enormous credit for persevering through the
long and challenging process that led to its protection."
State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, "With the Awosting Reserve
acquisition at Minnewaska State Park Preserve, we have not only furthered
our commitment to open space protection along the Shawangunk Ridge and
forestalled development, but expanded public access to outdoor recreational
opportunities at this popular site. With this latest investment, Governor
Pataki has demonstrated his support for strengthening our award-winning
state park system and furthered a tradition of extraordinary stewardship of
our park properties."
This latest acquisition follows several key additions to Minnewaska in the
last few years totaling 1,793 acres including a 1,228-acre parcel with
extensive views to the north and northwest from the upper elevations of the
Shawangunk Ridge and a network of trails and carriage roads. Minnewaska now
includes 16,400 acres, an increase of 4,311 since 2000.
The new parcels further the longstanding environmental goals set by the
Governor that have made New York a national leader in open space protection
and natural resource stewardship. Since taking office in 1995, the Governor
has protected more than 945,340 acres of open space statewide. In the 2004
State of the State Address, the Governor committed to opening five new state
parks in the next two years and opening or expanding 20 parks over the next
Since that time, the State has announced new state parks with the
acquisition of Robert V. Riddell State Park in Otsego and Amsterdam Beach in
Montauk, opened Two Rivers State Park in Tioga, opened Jamesport State Park
in Suffolk County, Robert G. Wehle State Park in Jefferson County, announced
Sonnenberg Gardens State Historic Park in Canandaigua and expanded
Rockefeller Preserve, Fahnestock and Wonder Lake State Parks in the Hudson
Valley, Delta Lake in Central New York and Thacher and Saratoga Spa State
Parks in the Capital District. ##