Connecting Hudson to Nature

Offering the potential to provide new health and quality-of-life benefits for City of Hudson residents and visitors, Scenic Hudson has protected 80 acres of scenic and ecologically important land just outside the city — the first step in creating a place for people to enjoy outdoor recreation and explore nature.

Conserving the property — which features meadows, forested ravines, wetlands and numerous streams — affords future opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and birdwatching very close to Hudson’s downtown. In addition, it permanently protects views from the historic Dr. Oliver Bronson House and Estate, located on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility and managed by Historic Hudson, as well as from Olana State Historic Site to the south. The property also sustains diverse wildlife.

The conserved land sits adjacent to a new community solar energy array. Solar company East Light Partners worked with Scenic Hudson to address all concerns regarding potential visual and ecological impacts of this project from the newly acquired land and the Bronson House.

The acquisition also marks a step forward in Scenic Hudson’s vision of creating a trail stretching from Hudson to Olana and across the new Hudson River Skywalk (on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge) to the Village of Catskill and the organization’s 612-acre RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary. To date, Scenic Hudson has protected more than 500 acres along the proposed route of the trail.

Much of this conserved acreage — including the newly acquired property — is within the watershed of South Bay Creek and Marsh, which the New York State Department of State has designated a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. The Town of Greenport secures drinking water from wells abutting this assemblage. In addition to supporting the ecological health of these waterbodies and the Hudson River (into which the creek flows), Scenic Hudson’s acquisitions in the South Bay Creek watershed will help to accommodate the inland migration of species whose habitats face inundation from climate-related sea level rise in the Hudson River and South Bay.

Poughkeepsie Rail Corridor Acquired for New Urban Trail

Taking the first step in creating a new trail that will link neighborhoods in the city and town of Poughkeepsie, Scenic Hudson has negotiated and funded the acquisition of 2.7 miles of a former rail corridor that passes through residential and commercial neighborhoods, as well as alongside Marist College, before ending near the Hudson River. In July, the Dutchess County Legislature voted unanimously to assume ownership of the corridor and to develop and maintain the new rail trail, which will enhance recreational and economic opportunities.

Site of future urban trail.

The rail corridor was acquired on December 11, 2019.

A former freight train spur that ceased operating in the early 1980s, the V-shaped corridor extends north from North Clinton Street in the city past the Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital to the future Hudson Heritage development (former Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital). From there, it turns back to the south, abutting Marist College before terminating near Kittredge Place in the city.

The trail will connect Poughkeepsie’s Northside neighborhoods to one another and other resources in the city and town, while providing recreational opportunities and future connections to the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail (which the corridor crosses) and the future Empire State Trail—all of which will help to improve residents’ quality of life and economic opportunity. The trail also will provide a safe way for Marist students and future Hudson Heritage residents to get into and out of the city and access the Dutchess Rail Trail, the developing Fall Kill Greenway and public space along the Hudson River.

Kingston Transformation

Kingston waterfront, aerial view of AVR (photo by Pierce Johnston)

More than 500 acres of forested and former industrial lands along the Hudson River will begin to heal from decades of neglect and ultimately become an oasis for nearby residents and visitors to explore nature, enjoy outdoor recreation and learn about local history. Located in the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster, the property had been slated for a 1,682-unit mixed-use development. Prior to that, it had been the site of a cement mine and processing facility.

This land was acquired on October 29, 2019, by Quarry Waters, LLC, an affiliate of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust. The property features areas of outstanding natural beauty, including 260 acres of undisturbed woodlands, more than a mile of Hudson Riverfront offering sweeping views, a dramatic cliff and ridgeline, and 37 acres of wetlands. In addition to sustaining a broad array of wildlife, the land contains numerous vestiges and structures from the cement industry that will be studied to determine potential risks as well as opportunities for public use and historic interpretation.

Kingston waterfront, aerial view of AVR (photo by Pierce Johnston)

The acquisition capitalizes on the development of a dramatic segment of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 750-mile Empire State Trail — also part of Kingston’s Greenline Trail — which will traverse the site’s riverfront, and other economic development investments the governor has prioritized in the area.

Scenic Hudson plans to reach out to various segments of the community to brief them on the acquisition and seek their preliminary input about how it can think about planning for the property’s future use. The land’s varied terrain and challenging conditions mean that whatever plans are ultimately developed will take time to consider and implement. In time, Scenic Hudson also may explore concessions appropriate to the land’s significant conservation values.

The property will remain closed to the public — as it has been for years — until further notice so that Scenic Hudson can take immediate and necessary action to secure the site and ensure public safety.

This acquisition represents Scenic Hudson’s most ambitious undertaking in its history to transform a former industrial site on the Hudson into a community asset in an urban setting. The new park will build on the organization’s past successes in turning similar sites in Beacon, Irvington, Tarrytown and Peekskill into magnificent places to connect with the river’s majesty.