DEC to Announce 140-Acre Addition to Shawangunk Ridge as Part of National Trails Day Event
Activities to Include Cleanup and Tours of Mamakating Rails-to-Trails Initiative
To celebrate National Trails Day on Saturday, June 7, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff and partners will be participating in a cleanup of 140 acres to be acquired by the state. The property is a “Rails-to-Trails” initiative that includes old rail beds that cross a variety of natural resources and will be a highlight of the Shawangunk Ridge trail system in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties.
“The expansion of a key regional trail is being made possible with the assistance of many community partners coming together to volunteer their time and effort to help restore this parcel after years of industrial use,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “This is a great project that will connect New York residents and visitors to nature and history with the use of the old railbeds.”
The property once included railbeds of the New York, Ontario, and Western Railway, and of the Port Jervis, Monticello, and Summitville Railroad. The property ties into the Delaware and Hudson Canal towpath to the north and west and provides a level, 8-foot-wide path over a stone culvert above wetlands and streams. The railroad right-of-way runs more than a mile into the existing DEC Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. The parcel will form a western branch of the 36-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail, which follows the ridge from High Point State Park in New Jersey to the Mohonk Preserve in Ulster County.
DEC will be acquiring the property using the Environmental Protection Fund, with a price to be determined following the completion of the appraisal process. Trail Conference volunteers will be responsible for building and maintaining the trails once they have been designed with DEC approval, and upon completion of the acquisition, the land will be added to the Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest.
“We are delighted to celebrate the preservation of another key link in the Shawangunk Ridge Corridor which brings the goal of connecting the Catskill Forest Preserve and the Delaware National Recreation Area that much closer,” New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Executive Director Edward Goodell said. “The Trail Conference looks forward to handing this parcel off to DEC so that they can continue the process of restoring the landscape and invite the public in to enjoy this piece of local history.”
“The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) is thrilled to be a partner on this important public access project,” Ethan Winter, New York Conservation Manager with LTA said. “Through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, the Alliance and DEC are helping to finance public access improvements along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail and other protected natural areas across the state. This project serves as a model for how conservation organizations can work with local and state partners to transform degraded sites into community assets, ultimately enhancing the public’s enjoyment of New York’s rich natural heritage.”
The National Trails Day event will be a day-long celebration of the state’s commitment to purchase the parcel. DEC staff, members of the Trail Conference, and other volunteers will participate in a final cleanup of the property from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by lunch for volunteers and guests. At 1 p.m., a press conference will be held, and from 2 – 4 p.m., hikes and tours of the property will be given.
The public is welcome to attend the day’s activities. Those interested in attending can contact the Trail Conference at (201) 512-9348 or the DEC Region 3 office at (845) 256-3000. Participants will be meeting at Ferguson Rd in the hamlet of Summitville, Town of Mamakating, Sullivan County.
More information about this and other Trails Day events around the state can be found on the Trail Conference’s website at www.nynjtc.org .