North Hollow Property Expands Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area

December 7, 2011

A Putnam County, N.Y. property prized for wildlife habitat and water quality protection has been conserved and added to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area, The Trust for Public Land and the State of New York announced today. The 261-acre property, known as North Hollow, is located within the Great Swamp watershed and will expand the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area by more than a third.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has long sought to add the North Hollow property to its 467-acre Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area to further protect wildlife habitat and forestland.

Since 2006, The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, has been working with New York State, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the family of the late Gerald Blumberg, a long time resident of the Hudson River Valley, to conserve the property.

North Hollow features steep upland forests protecting nearby Haviland Hollow Brook, a pristine trout stream. The brook watershed connects with the Great Swamp, Croton River, and reservoirs in the New York Highlands that provide drinking water to New York City.

Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area is located near the 800-acre Putnam County-owned Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area. The preservation of North Hollow will be a valuable addition to a network of protected lands within the Great Swamp, which ranks as one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the state, supporting many plant and animal species. The addition of North Hollow will also increase public access to the Wildlife Management Area for hiking, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, and trapping.

“Completing the conservation of the North Hollow property is a vital addition to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area,” said Marc Matsil, The Trust for Public Land's New York State Director. “The Trust for Public Land is grateful to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for their dedication to protecting land in the Highlands and to the New York congressional delegation for their commitment to the Highlands Conservation Act, which made this project possible. This diverse cover type provides superb recreation opportunities and great economic value by enhancing regional ecotourism and builds on the vital work of the State and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to safeguard drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.”

Funding in the amount of $653,500 was secured from a federal Highlands Conservation Act grant for use toward the purchase of the property. The federal program, funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is designed to assist Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania with conserving land and natural resources in the Highlands region. Since 2007, New York has received over $2,300,000 of Highlands Conservation Act grants for four projects. These federal grants have leveraged other sources of funding to protect over 900 acres. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are strong supporters of the Highlands Conservation Act and helped secure the funding that allows the Great Swamp acquisition to move forward. They are also champions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues generated from offshore oil and gas drilling leases, rather than taxpayer dollars, to acquire important lands for the public.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said “Adding these acres to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management area will help expand the land available for hiking, fishing, hunting and trapping for generations to come in the Hudson Valley. By combining acres and acres of pristine parkland and open space together, we are increasing the quality of life for everyone who lives, works or plays in Putnam County and increasing the potential economic opportunities for this popular recreational tourist destination.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “The conservation of New York's natural resources is something that is vital for the health and safety of our communities as well as the economy through industries such as recreation and tourism. The Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area will undoubtedly create a sanctuary that can be used to help the environment as well as create a space to be used by tourists to enjoy the tranquility that the Hudson Valley has to offer.”

The property is located in the district of U.S. Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, who has also been a strong supporter of the Highlands Conservation Act.

Congresswoman Nan Hayworth said, “The addition of the North Hollow property to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area is wonderful news for the Hudson Valley. Funding for initiatives such as this come in part from the federal government via the Highlands Conservation Act. I'm proud to have been a vocal advocate in Washington, DC, for this program, which is so important to preservation of the beautiful land and clean water we cherish here. At a time when our future depends on making government more efficient and effective, innovative public/private partnerships like the Highland Conservation Act allow us to work together to do what's right for our communities, for our country, and for our environment.”

The Highlands Conservation Act grant required a non-federal match on a dollar-to-dollar basis. The transaction was made possible thanks to a donation made on behalf of the Blumberg family, equal to 50 percent of the value of the property, thereby creating the required match for the federal grant.

“Land acquisition is an important tool for the protection of water quality,” said New York City Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. “The purchase of this 261-acre parcel that sits within the Croton watershed will keep this land unspoiled. Having The Trust for Public Land and the State of New York take steps that are in concert with our own, means a great deal to the nine million New Yorkers who rely on this water source for their daily drinking water needs.”

“Investing in open space conservation brings meaningful value for people who are looking for close-to-home recreational opportunities to get outside with their families and enjoy the wealth of natural resources the Highlands Region has to offer,” said Mark Zakutansky, Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club and spokesman for the Highlands Coalition. “The Highlands Coalition of over 180 organizations applauds the work of New York's congressional delegation, the State Department of Environmental Conservation and The Trust for Public Land for partnering to permanently protect the North Hollow property for generations to enjoy.”

Lawrence S. Blumberg, a New York City attorney stated, “My father acquired this land over 50 years ago. During this time, he turned down many offers to develop or sell the property because he was waiting for something special. Several years ago, before his death in 2009 at age 97, he was so happy and gratified to know that we were working with The Trust for Public Land. I know that he would be very proud that his land has been preserved forever.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres. In New York, TPL has helped conserved 125,000 acres. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.

The Highlands Coalition is an alliance of over 180 conservation organizations in the 3.5 million-acre Highlands region of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut-an area that has been deemed “nationally significant” through the federal Highlands Conservation Act (HCA). Through two decades of collective conservation, the Coalition and its partners have worked to implement leading-edge conservation in the Northeast. We focus on regional conservation and sound land use management tools, including open space protection, in order to preserve valuable forests, wildlife habitat, water resources, agricultural lands, and recreational opportunities for the 25 million people who live within 45 minutes of the Highlands. Learn more at http://www.highlandscampaign.org/.