Historic Colonial Land Protected in Livingston (NY)

As part of the 2009 Hudson Quadricentennial, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the first “legacy project” of the Quadricentennial celebration: the acquisition of a portion of the historic Livingston Manor on the shores of the Hudson River in Columbia County.

The Trust for Public Land negotiated the sale of the 320-acre parcel from the Livingston family for $2.4 million to the DEC. The parcel, to be known as the Livingston State Forest, includes scenic views from the Hudson River shoreline and opportunities for a variety of uses.

“The Livingston State Forest has played a historic role in New York State,” said Matt Shurtleff, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “Its preservation will provide for the sustainable management of an important local economic resource and, at the same time, ensure continued public access for a variety of recreational pursuits along the Hudson River.”

“As we approach the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s historic voyage, the timing of this acquisition could not be better,” Grannis said. “It will not only protect a scenic and historic area but also provide more opportunities for New Yorkers to connect to the natural world. We owe thanks to the Livingston family for making this happen.”

In 1686, Robert Livingston was issued a royal patent by the governor of New York, entitling him to 160,000 acres between the Hudson River and the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders. The 320-acre property has been in the Livingston family for 10 generations and has seen a variety of uses, from agricultural to industrial. Remnants of an 18th century, narrow gauge railroad and nearby brick iron ore kilns still exist. The Livingston family tree includes a number of historically notable individuals, including Robert R. Livingston, who attended the Continental Congress and was once a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. He served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs (under the Articles of Confederation) and, in 1789, administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington.

Since 1948, Edmund Livingston has owned a 320-acre remnant of the original patent, located in the town of Livingston. He has practiced careful stewardship of the land, enrolling in a forest-management program overseen by DEC while allowing access to hikers, campers, hunters, fisherman and horseback riders.

2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson up the river that bears his name. TPL is pleased to have assisted with the first project as a part of DEC’s Legacy Program. The Legacy Program will be rolled out over several years and will create tangible benefits for future generations [New Yorkers] to enjoy. DEC will develop plans to provide more waterway access, protect open space, improve water quality and restore signature species and habitats of these waterways.

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected more than 2.2 million acres of land nationwide, including more than 126,000 acres throughout the state of New York.