State Agencies Work to Create New NY State Forest

July 30, 2005 – Morris, NY – Governor George Pataki announced today the state’s commitment to conserving more than 2,500 acres in Ostego County, including a 1,130-acre property being purchased by the Trust for Public Land to create the new General Jacob Morris State Forest in the Town of Morris.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is working with the Trust for Public Land to acquire the property located approximately 14 miles northwest of Cooperstown, along State Highway 51, in the beautiful Butternut Valley. The land will be acquired from Erika Hall, whose deceased husband was a descendant of General Jacob Morris, a Revolutionary War hero who settled in the Town that is named in his honor. General Morris’ father, Lewis, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The property has been in the family since 1793.

The parcel lies between the existing 458-acre Wagner Farm State Forest and the 730-acre Calhoun Creek State Forest, which will bring State land holdings there to more than 2,300 acres. Its acquisition will help protect an important ecosystem and increase protected acreage in the Susquehanna watershed. The majority of the property is forested land, with a portion being wetland and farmland. Much of the forested acreage was established as plantations of conifers in the 1930s. As with all State Forest lands, the State will pay local property and school taxes.

“Opportunities to protect more than 1,100 acres for conservation in New York are rare, and we applaud Governor Pataki and the State Department of Environmental Conservation for leading this effort,” said Matt Shurtleff, Trust for Public Land project manager.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said in a press release, “These new properties will provide the public with exciting new recreational opportunities in one of the most scenic areas of the State. Through Governor Pataki’s unwavering commitment to open space conservation, New York’s outdoor legacy is being enhanced, with environmental and economic benefits to the people and communities of the state.”

This latest acquisition of a new state park furthers the longstanding environmental goals set by the Governor that have made New York a national leader in open space protection and natural resource stewardship. In the 2004 State of the State address, the Governor committed to opening five new state parks in the next two years and opening or expanding 20 parks over the next five years.

With these announcements, Governor Pataki has now protected close to 920,000 acres of open space statewide since 1995. During that same time he has invested more than $13 billion to protect and preserve New York’s environment. This historic commitment includes a record $150 million in the 2005-2006 State Budget — a 20 percent increase over last year and a six-fold increase in the last decade. Annual funding for environmental programs now totals more than $1.4 billion.

The Trust for Public Land 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. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 65,000 acres in New York.