For The Catskill Chronicle as featured on thecatskillchronicle.com
NEW YORK, NY (June 2, 2011) — In celebration of National Trails Day, which was last Saturday, June 4, the Open Space Institute last week announced the acquisition of three miles of rail trail along the old O&W rail bed in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating.
The trail was acquired by OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, and runs north from Sullivan Street in the village of Wurtsboro to Route 209 and the D&H Canal Linear Park. The acquisition allows for the development of a nearly 8-mile-long loop for hikers, walkers, bikers and other recreational users. From one end, the trail will head north from the village of Wurtsboro along the historic O&W rail bed before doubling back to the south along the historic D&H Canal Linear Park and canal path.
The newly acquired three-mile stretch of trail links downtown Wurtsboro with the Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests.
“OSI’s acquisition sets the stage for a recreational corridor that connects the village and the state forests, with beautiful wetlands along the way,” said Ed Goodell, the executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. “We believe this will become a very popular destination for local residents and tourists alike.”
OSI envisions that today’s acquisition will one day help complete a 140-mile-long interconnected rail trail network that would run from southern Dutchess County, throughUlster, Sullivan and Orange counties on to the southern and western Catskills.
Several pieces of the proposed network have already been acquired by OSI. In 2009, OSI and theWallkill Valley Land Trust acquired 11.5 miles of railroad bed in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster, in Ulster County. Once this trail is open to the public, it will extend from the town of Shawangunk to the city of Kingston, expanding the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to nearly 24 miles.
In 2001, OSI acquired nearly 2 miles of rail trail on the west side of the Shawangunk Ridge in the town of Wawarsing. OSI is currently in negotiations to purchase an additional 2.1 miles of rail bed in Wawarsing, which would be added to the regional network.
Other portions of the trail network are already publicly owned and maintained, including theDutchess Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson, the Hurley Marbletown Rail Trail and the Accord Rail Trail. As a unified system, however, the trails would link some of the most well-known, picturesque and historic landscapes in the state.
“The Hudson River Valley and the Catskills are blessed with some of the most beautiful rail trails in the state of New York,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “These trails run through our most bucolic landscapes, connecting towns, villages, parks and rivers. OSI will continue to acquire key stretches of privately held rail beds to assemble and open up an extensive network of trails for the public to enjoy. Recreational rail trails offer a boost to local economies and communities while preserving local land use and heritage. As we have seen elsewhere, everyone wins from access to rail trails.”
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. OSI has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, OSI 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. Please visit http://www.osiny.org<http://www.osiny.org/> for more information.