Open land preserved near G’port water source

GREENPORT–Scenic Hudson has acquired 105 acres at the junction of US Route 9 and state Route 23, a prominent part of the gateway to the City of Hudson and the nearby Olana State Historic Site. In a press release issued last week the organization says the land plays “a critical role in maintaining the quality of the local public water supply.”

The latest acquisition is part of the Scenic Hudson Saving the Land That Matters Most campaign in the Hudson, an initiative aimed at conserving lands that contribute to the health and prosperity of the region’s communities.

The new land includes over 40 acres of farmland, forested ravines and wetlands, and a 750-foot segment of South Bay Creek. It is within the view seen by visitors to Olana, one of the region’s top tourism destinations and is just upstream from wellheads for the Town of Greenport’s drinking-water supply as well as the state-designated South Bay Creek and Marsh Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

The land was previously owned by the Lambert family and was used mostly for growing hay, said Seth McKee, director of land conservation at Scenic Hudson, who was reached by phone this week. “We hope to lease it to a farmer and have public access to it” with conservation and public trail easements, he added. The price for the new land was around $600,000, he said.

Scenic Hudson says that the high-quality agricultural soils on the property also made this a conservation priority of the organization’s NYC/Hudson Valley Foodshed Conservation Plan, which the organization calls 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.

The land adjoins 381 acres Scenic Hudson previously protected along South Bay Creek adjacent to the City of Hudson and 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.

“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, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said in the release.

Mr. McKee emphasized that of conserving the undeveloped land above the old South Bay is to act as a mitigating factor as water levels rise with climate change. State Route 9G is often submerged following heavy rains and though the new land and the other conserved property nearby won’t prevent flooding, they can reduce some of the impacts.

More about the organization’s Foodshed Conservation Plan is at The Hudson Valley has an $800-million agricultural economy, and Scenic Hudson says that conserving farms acts as a buffer against rising local property taxes, with contributing more in taxes than they consume in tax-paid services.

The Save the Land That Matters Most campaign is a multi-year, collaborative effort among 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 its land trust partners an additional 2,669 acres.

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.

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