Conservation Easement Protects Farm, Town’s Natural Beauty

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 -- Scenic Hudson

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

Deal also preserves spectacular views from Vanderbilt Mansion

ESOPUS (Ulster County)—Taking another step in its campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most, Scenic Hudson has acquired a conservation easement ensuring the permanent protection of 80 acres of farm fields and woods in Esopus. The easement ensures that the property—currently an active equine operation—will remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. It also means the land will always be available for agriculture.

Located within the Esopus-Lloyd Scenic Area of Statewide Significance—designated by New York State for its outstanding scenic and historic value—the farm contributes prominently to Esopus’s natural beauty, which attracts visitors and residents to the town. In the future, a public hiking trail could be routed along the rear of the property, supporting creation of the eight-mile John Burroughs/Black Creek Conservation Corridor currently in the early stages of planning.

Protection of the property, which is located directly across the Hudson River from Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, also safeguards magnificent vistas enjoyed by visitors to this popular tourism destination.

Scenic Hudson Senior Land Project Manager Matt Shipkey negotiated the easement with the landowner, David W. Hill.

Deal has strong economic upside

“Acquiring a conservation easement on this beautiful farm means it will continue benefiting Esopus and its residents and could help us accomplish the longer-term goal of creating a new trail that will further enhance the tourism economy of the town and Ulster County. Preserving this property also was essential to ensure that future generations will continue to be inspired by world-class views from Vanderbilt Mansion,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

Scenic Hudson has protected more than 3,100 acres within the viewsheds of Vanderbilt Mansion and the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site, conserving stunning vistas that help make them two of the Hudson Valley’s leading tourist attractions. Together, the sites are visited annually by more than 500,000 people who contribute $9 million to the local economy.

Collaborative campaign targets protecting 65,000 acres

Scenic Hudson’s campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most was launched in 2007 to provide a lasting way of commemorating the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage of discovery. It is a multi-year, collaborative effort with fellow land trusts, governments, individuals and businesses to protect 65,000 acres of the greatest scenic, ecological and agricultural significance throughout the Hudson Valley. To date, Scenic Hudson has conserved 9,658 acres and our land trust partners an additional 2,709 acres.

“As a working farm that contributes to the heritage and scenic character of Esopus, this property epitomizes what we call ‘The Land That Matters Most.’ We thank the landowner who worked with us to guarantee its permanent protection and provide the potential for new trail opportunities,” said Steve Rosenberg, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust.

Funds for the acquisition came from Scenic Hudson’s Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment.

Land preservation key to economic opportunity, protecting critical habitats

Scenic Hudson also pursues its campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most realizing that preserving land provides the cornerstone of a sustainable economy for the region. In Ulster and Dutchess counties, the tourism industry is responsible for nearly $950 million in spending each year, generating $65 million annually in local taxes and employing more than 16,500 people. Protected lands also help secure the valley’s place in the new “green” economy. A study by the Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start up firms rank quality of life—including an abundance of parks and open space—higher than housing, cost of living and good schools.

The newly protected land also is within the state-recognized Grand Pond/Chodikee Lake Biologically Important Area (BIA). The A rating assigned this BIA by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a consortium of conservation partners means its habitats are of the highest importance.

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 60 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved over 30,000 acres. and