156 Acres Added to Tilly Foster Conservation Area (NY)

Town of Southeast, NY, 11/13/2007: On November 7, the Town of Southeast closed on a $2.2 million deal to acquire 156 acres of land near the existing Tilly Foster Conservation Area. The acquisition from the UJA-Federation of New York, a philanthropic organization, was negotiated by The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation organization.

“The conservation of this property as open space marks a great day for the Town of Southeast. It will provide the public with recreational access for a range of activities now and in the future, protect our drinking water and also conserve critical wildlife habitat,” said John Dunford, Town of Southeast Supervisor.

The purchase was culmination of years of effort by Southeast citizens working with their government. In particular, Southeast’s Open Space Advisory Committee was appointed by the Town Board and charged with developing strategies to preserve open space. Last summer the committee, made up of local residents and elected officials, recommended that Southeast put a $5 million bond for open space acquisition on the November ballot. The referendum passed and, soon thereafter, the Town Board began exploring the possibility of acquiring the UJA property.

The newly-protected land includes forests, fields, wetlands, and thickets. A former farm dating back many decades, it retains many of its beautiful stone walls but now also hosts a variety of animal life including turtles, as well as many different species of birds. Additionally the property is filled with several meandering walking paths.

The acquisition by Southeast increases the protected land in the Tilly Foster Conservation Area. In 2002, with the assistance of The Trust for Public Land, Putnam County acquired the 199-acre Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast. In 2006, the county expanded the conservation area by adding 94 acres in Patterson. Located immediately adjacent, the UJA property also borders on Route 84 and Pugsley and Fields Corner’s roads and brings the protected area in the conservation area to a total of 449 acres.

“We are very happy for the continued acquisition of open space in the Tilly Foster Conservation Area. We look forward to working with the town on other the acquisition of other parcels to continue to protect land critical to the quality of life here in Putnam County,” said Deputy Putnam County Executive John G. Tully.

Long-time supporters of open space were also pleased. Ann Fanizzi, Chair of Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space, said she was, “Absolutely overjoyed that the property was finally purchase. We’ve been waiting a long time.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) participated in the land’s conservation, both by advising Southeast about bonding and by negotiating the recent purchase from UJA. “Southeast’s acquisition of this critical open space demonstrates how citizens and local governments can actively work to protect the land that is important to them,” said TPL Project Manager Matt Shurtleff. “From the work of the Open space Advisory Committee to the November 2006 vote to the Town Board’s resolution to buy the property, everyone in Southeast made this preservation possible.”