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Friends of the Shawangunks, along with our land trust, The Shawangunk Conservancy, is dedicated to protecting the Shawangunk Mountains of New York from adverse environmental impacts. Please Join Us.

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Study Confirms Ecological Significance of Binnewater Hills

The Open Space Institute (OSI), the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) and the Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy (RELC) have released a comprehensive scientific assessment of the Binnewater Hills confirming its unique ecological significance and calling for continued conservation in and around the area.

The Binnewater region, including Joppenbergh Mountain, links the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill Mountains to the west with the Marlboro Mountains and, across the Hudson River, the Taconic Range to the east. Located just northeast of the Shawangunk Mountains, the Binnewater Hills has offered generations of visitors excellent recreational opportunities.

In 2010, OSI acquired a 118-acre tract at the southernmost extension of the Binnewater region, which includes Joppenbergh Mountain. For several years, Friends of the Shawangunks has been fund-raising to defray almost half the costs of this important acquisition. To learn more about Joppenbergh and to make a donation to our fund-raising effort, click on the Joppenbergh Mtn link at the top of this page.

To see the OSI press release regarding this study, go to Binnewater Study.

(Item posted August 15, 2015)

Minnewaska Master Plan Changes Proposed

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation held a meeting on August 12, 2015 to review possible changes to the master plan for Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The proposed changes would be centered in the Lake Minnewaska Area and involve parking changes, visitor center and other infrastructure changes from the original (2010) conceptual master plan layout. The purpose of the meeting, attended by about 3 dozen people, was to describe the proposals and to invite public comment. Maps were made available showing the original master plan for the lake area and the proposed changes to the master plan.

Among the changes proposed are:
1. Changing the location of a required new septic system after tests indicated unsuitable conditions at the originally proposed site.
2. Shifting the location of the proposed visitor center to previously disturbed land about 200 feet from the north end of the lake. The original plan called for converting an existing residential structure on the edge of the lake (“Phillips House”) into a visitor center, which proved to be economically unfeasible. The new location would be closer to parking and would reduce the length of a wastewater line by 1,200 feet. The Phillips House would be demolished and the site restored.
3. Shifting the location of the parking areas called for in the original master plan. Both the 2010 plan and the proposed amendment call for closing the existing parking area near the lake and creating terraced parking areas somewhat further north of the lake. The new proposal would result in 350 parking spaces versus the 340 called for in the 2010 plan and compared to the 200 spaces currently in use.

A public information packet outlining the proposed amendments is at Minnewaska Master Plan Meeting. Once there, scroll down to Public Meeting Information Packets.

Written comments on the proposed amendments will be accepted until Wednesday August 26, 2015. Please send them to:
Mark Hohengasser
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Planning Bureau
Albany, NY 12238

(Item posted August 15, 2015)

Mohonk Preserve Wins Legal Battle

The Mohonk Preserve has regained title to 73 acres of undeveloped land in the Town of Rochester, Ulster County. The New York State Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court ruling that had found in favor of a local land owner who had disputed the Preserve’s ownership of the property. The Preserve had purchased the property in 1994. No further appeals are possible.
For the complete court decision, visit Mohonk Preserve Court Ruling.

(Item posted July 28, 2015)

Shawangunk Gateway Campground Opens

The first public campground built in New York State in more than 30 years has opened in the Shawangunks. The campground has 50 sites, features showers and restrooms, and is available for tent camping only. Managed jointly by the Mohonk Preserve and the American Alpine Club, the facility, formally known as the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground, is located on Route 299, not far from the junction with Routes 44/55. The campground sits on 50 acres of land purchased by the Open Space Institute which then transferred it to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
For further details, see the article in the New Paltz Times at Campground.

(Item posted July 28, 2015)

602 Acres In Witch’s Hole Area Added to Minnewaska State Park Preserve

  • The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced on April 7 a 602-acre expansion of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, which will enhance year-round, trail-based recreational opportunities in the Shawangunks and further protect the Witch’s Hole Conservation Area, a remote and spectacular part of the Preserve. The expansion consists of two parcels acquired from the Open Space Institute, a leader in the preservation of the Shawangunks.

    The larger parcel, off of Port Ben Road/Towpath Road, consists of a lengthy strip of land stretching over 2.3 miles into the heart of the park, from the base of the Shawangunk Ridge nearly to its summit close to Napanoch Point and High Point. It contains extensive cliffs, waterfalls, deep hemlock ravines and pitch pine barrens. The parcel also protects one of the most remote areas of the Shawangunk Ridge, a deep ravine, stream and waterfalls known as the Witch’s Hole.

    The second property was formerly part of Soyuzivka, a resort operated by the Ukrainian National Association, a Ukrainian fraternal organization. The 233-acre parcel provides important recreational access from Foordmore Road and contains a mountainous stream known as the Little Stony Kill and its magnificent 100-foot high waterfalls, known locally as Nonkanawha Falls. The parcel also has extensive views of the Catskill Mountains and contains an extensive wilderness ravine known as the Mine Hole Hollow, several streams, and large expanses of bedrock and pitch pines.

    (Item posted April 9, 2015)

    OSI Acquires 88 Acres in Southern Shawangunks

  • The Open Space Institute has just announced a new acquisition along the southern Shawangunk Ridge which adds to the extensive network of OSI-conserved properties in Sullivan County and expands public access for hiking, camping and hunting. The parcel, adjacent to the Roosa Gap State Forest, consists of 88 acres of undeveloped forest land located in easternmost Sullivan County. It buffers the Long Path and opens the possibility of a new trailhead to that 350 mile long-distance hiking trail. This acquisition is OSI’s twentieth in the area of the Shawangunk Ridge, Roosa Gap and Wurtsboro Ridge State Forests—and adds to a connected collection of OSI-preserved land in the area totaling over 5,400 acres. OSI has been a long-time partner of Friends of the Shawangunks in protecting this unique and precious ecosystem.

    (Item posted March 18, 2015)

    A Painless Way to Support Friends

    In our August 2014 newsletter, Shawangunk Watch, we reported that Amazon.com had instituted a program in which it would give us 0.5% of whatever you spend when you shop with them on line. We just received our first check from them for $28.44 covering the last quarter of 2014. That reflects purchases of $5,688 made by members who have used the following simple one-time procedure:

    – go to smile.amazon.com
    – bookmark the page (this bookmark becomes your new way to access Amazon)
    – sign in as you usually do
    – in the “Charity name or location” box enter “Shawangunk”
    – click on Friends of the Shawangunks or The Shawangunk Conservancy
    Go ahead and shop.

    In the future, when you go to shop at Amazon via smile.amazon.com (the new bookmark) you will see that the organization you selected will receive a contribution from Amazon based on the amount of your purchase, at no cost to you.

    Now, $28.44 may not sound like much, but every little bit helps.
    (Item posted February 20, 2015)

    Visit Us on Facebook

    We encourage those of you using Facebook to visit our Facebook page and to “like” us there.
    (Item posted February 20, 2015)

    New Threat to Shawangunk Ridge Greenway – Action Requested

  • The following is from a press release by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

    The 110-mile long natural corridor that is the Shawangunk-Kittatinny Ridge, and the Trail Conference project to complete the continuous greenway in New York, is threatened by a high-end housing project in Mamakating known as Seven Peaks.

    Developers are currently putting the finishing touches on their Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Trail Conference and other groups, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, posed numerous challenges and questions to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project in 2010. A recent workshop session between developers, planners, and representatives of the Trail Conference and the Basha Kill Area Association left the latter two groups dissatisfied with developers’ responses and concerned about the future of the ridge and its environs.

    The Trail Conference’s would like to preserved the entire parcel as open space but, short of that, our position is that the Mamakating Planning Board should not approve the project unless, at a minimum, provision is made for an adequate wilderness corridor along the western edge of the property. This corridor would provide a route for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail for the public to enjoy. The applicants plans currently indicate a narrow corrider, about one-mile long, unconnected to any other trail, and accessible only by being admitted past the community gate.

    The Trail Conference remains willing to work with developers on creating an adequate, feasible plan for a trail through the property that is part of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.

    The Trail Conference asks for your support of the efforts to protect a natural trail corridor on the Shawangunk Ridge. You can do this by conveying your concerns about the impacts of the Seven Peaks development project to the Mamakating Planning Board by June 1, in order that they be part of the ongoing critique of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. You can email your comments to: Planning Board Chair Mort Starobin and Board Members lindafranck@citlink.net

    The Trail Conference asks that you indicate your support for their vision of a protected Shawangunk Ridge and the Trail Conference Shawangunk Ridge Trail project. The Basha Kill Area Association suggests additional talking points that relate to Seven Peaks’ impact on water in the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area in Sullivan County and on the Shawangunk Kill in Orange County. For more information on these topics, visit Basha Kill Area Association.
    (Item posted May 15, 2014)

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