Columbia County Land Deal Protects Drinking Water Supply, Farmland, Critical Wildlife Habitats and Olana Views

Thursday, October 8, 2015 -- Scenic Hudson

Jay Burgess
Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222 Cell: (914) 489-0362 Fax: (845) 473-0740

Latest victory in campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most

GREENPORT (Columbia County)—Scenic Hudson has acquired 105 scenic, agriculturally and ecologically important acres that also play a critical role in maintaining the quality of the local public water supply. The latest victory in the organization’s ongoing Saving the Land That Matters Most campaign, the transaction builds on Scenic Hudson’s record for conserving lands that contribute to the health and prosperity of valley communities.

Located at the junction of US Route 9 and NYS Route 23—a prominent piece of the visual gateway to the City of Hudson and the nearby Olana State Historic Site—the property features more than 40 acres of farmland, forested ravines and wetlands, and a 750-foot segment of South Bay Creek. In addition to contributing to outstanding views enjoyed by visitors to Olana, one of the region’s top tourism destinations, the land plays an important role in protecting the quality of the creek’s water and ecology. It is just upstream from wellheads that provide the Town of Greenport’s public drinking-water supply as well as the state-designated South Bay Creek and Marsh Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

Land also supports goals to protect farmland, create long-distance trail corridor

The high-quality agricultural soils on the property also made this a conservation priority of Scenic Hudson’s NYC/Hudson Valley Foodshed Conservation Plan, a blueprint for ramping up collaborative farmland protection efforts to create a secure source of fresh, local food in the Hudson Valley and New York City. Scenic Hudson ultimately hopes to convey the agricultural land to a local farmer, subject to a conservation and public trail easement.

In addition, acquiring this land—which adjoins 381 acres Scenic Hudson previously protected along South Bay Creek, adjacent to the City of Hudson—supports the organization’s long-term goal of establishing a cultural and conservation corridor between downtown Hudson, Olana, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the Village of Catskill and Scenic Hudson’s RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary.

“Scenic Hudson is excited to seize this opportunity to conserve more land along South Bay Creek. By supporting local agriculture, preserving world-class views, connecting people to the Hudson Valley’s natural treasures, and safeguarding important habitats and drinking-water sources, this acquisition plays a critical role in carrying out our mission to enhance the region’s health and economic prosperity. I’m so grateful to the generous supporters who made it possible for us to preserve this property,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

Scenic Hudson Senior Land Project Manager Kelly Boling negotiated the transaction, which was completed with funds from the organization’s Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment.

Land preservation boosts economic opportunity

Scenic Hudson pursues its campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most realizing that preserving land provides the cornerstone of a sustainable Hudson Valley economy. Tourism in the 10-county region generates $5 billion in spending annually and employs more than 83,000 people. Annual tourism spending in Columbia County is $123.5 million and supports nearly 2,150 jobs. Olana’s magnificent views play an important role in attracting visitors to the 19th-century mansion and designed landscape created by seminal Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic E. Church. Olana generates nearly $8 million of economic stimulus in surrounding communities each year.

Protected lands also help grow other parts of the economy. A study by the Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start firms rank quality of life—including an abundance of parks and open space—higher than housing, cost of living and good schools.

Farmland essential to sustaining community’s agriculture-based economy

This transaction also supports the goals of the organization’s groundbreaking Foodshed Conservation Plan. It will support the viability of agriculture-related businesses and help secure the region’s agricultural vitality, which contributes substantially to the Hudson Valley’s $800-million agricultural and $4.75-billion tourism economies. Conserving farms also is a buffer against rising local property taxes: Studies have shown that farms contribute more in taxes than they consume in tax-paid services.

Collaborative campaign targets protecting valley’s most important landscapes

Scenic Hudson’s campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most is a multi-year, collaborative effort with fellow land trusts, governments, individuals and businesses to protect lands of the highest scenic, ecological and agricultural significance throughout the Hudson Valley. Since initiating the campaign in 2007, Scenic Hudson has conserved 12,975 acres and our land trust partners an additional 2,669 acres.

“Preserving this beautiful property embodies so many aspects of Scenic Hudson’s work—safeguarding the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary natural resources, promoting healthy communities, and supporting local agriculture and tourism. For this reason, it’s a critical part of what we call ‘The Land That Matters Most,’” said Steve Rosenberg, executive director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved over 35,000 acres.