December 5, 2008, Mid Hudson News: Sundown Wild Forest Property protected

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NEW YORK - The Open Space Institute announced today the acquisition of a 136-acre inholding located near the town of Denning within Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Park. Protection of the property opens up additional access for the many hunters and campers who utilize this very isolated and pristine area for recreation and enjoyment.

The parcel was purchased by OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, with funding from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.

Because the property is surrounded by state land on all sides, its conservation eliminates the threat of any incompatible use that would compromise the integrity of the adjoining state forestlands. As such, it had already been identified as a priority conservation acquisition by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and after acquisition will ultimately be conveyed to DEC as an addition to the Sundown Wild Forest.

“For decades, this parcel located within the Catskill Forest Preserve has been maintained by prudent land stewards, a group of friends and hunters who respected and preserved its natural resources,” said Jennifer Grossman, OSI’s vice president of land acquisition. “Today, through OSI’s purchase, this legacy of wise management will continue, ensuring that this land is forever wild and making it available to all those who visit the majestic Catskill Mountains.”

The previous landowners, a group of six longtime friends, had used the land for years for hunting, fishing and recreation. They were happy to see the property preserved as they had known it, said Frank Malloy, one of the owners.

“We didn’t want to sell it and close it off,” Malloy said. “Our preference was to keep it as it is and available for recreation. That will benefit everybody.”

Conservation of the forestland is also significant because the previous landowners harvested timber on the land in such a way that allowed for a variety of new growth, creating a diverse and unique wildlife habitat. Today, deer, bears, coyotes, foxes and turkeys roam its 136 mountainous acres of hills, streams and ledges.

For hikers in the region, the conserved property is not far from the 60-foot-high Red Hill Fire Tower, the last fire tower to be staffed in the Catskills. For those who climb its nine flights of stairs, the tower rewards them with incredible views of the Catskill High Peaks to the west and north, and the Rondout Reservoir to the southeast.

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