By Daniel Axelrod
May 21, 2018
WURTSBORO – Two recent land purchases by the Open Space Institute will link the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in Wurtsboro to Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests.
The acquisitions also are important steps toward unifying the 71-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail, from Rosendale in Ulster County to High Point State Park in New Jersey, so hikers never have to walk on private property or roads.
“It takes long-term dedicated perseverance and a real vision to unite these trails,” said Bob Anderberg, senior vice president and general counsel of the Open Space Institute.
“All the groups that have been working on uniting these trails are really heroes.”
One recent purchase by OSI was the 117-acre Kaufman property, bordering the northern part of the Bashakill, a large, pristine freshwater wetland known as a bird haven.
The institute bought it from the Kaufman family for $270,000.
Currently, hikers walking the Shawangunk Ridge from Port Jervis to New Paltz go through miles of state forest.
But when they reach the Bashakill in Wurtsboro, they must leave the trail and walk over two miles of public roads in the municipality.
Thanks to the purchase, those on the Shawangunk Ridge Trail also can connect to the nearby Mamakating Rail Trail, a roughly 11-mile stretch from Summitville to Westbrookville in the Bashakill’s southern end.
Plus, the OSI just closed on the 86-acre “Bashakill-South Road” property, which runs along the Bashakill’s eastern edge.
OSI bought the property, which is visible from Route 17, for $105,000 from the Kurinskas family.
“Any time more property is added to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, it is just fantastic,” said Paula Medley, president of the Basha Kill Area Association.
“We are extremely grateful to the Open Space Institute for their years and years of protecting the Shawangunk Ridge.”
Over the last 30 years, the institute has played a critical role in assembling more than 33,000 acres of conservation holdings in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties.
The land covers parts of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve and the Bashakill, creating a nearly continuous ecological greenway through the three counties.
Elsewhere in Orange County, OSI also recently bought the 395-acre “Harriman Connection” property for $3.2 million from the Northrop-Friedman families.
The property links to a four-mile network of carriage roads and trails.
“If we didn’t have organizations like the Open Space Institute actively going out to conserve parcels like these and open them to the public, we’d lose them, and it’s likely they’d be developed,” said environmentalist Katherine Nadeau, deputy director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.