Sterling Forest State Park (NY) expanded

Trust for Public Land, Open Space Institute help protect more than 2,000 acres

Governor George E. Pataki today was joined by representatives of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Open Space Institute (OSI), elected officials and environmental supporters to announce agreements that will add more than 2,000 acres of land to Sterling Forest State Park.

The joint venture of TPL and OSI negotiated an agreement to purchase 1,000 acres and protect with a conservation easement an additional 250 acres owned by the Zurich Centre Group. The groups also negotiated the purchase of 659 acres from New York University to be added to the park. A third parcel totaling 209 acres was purchased by the State from a private landowner.

“These are critical pieces in a much larger puzzle of hundreds of thousands of acres of contiguous wilderness habitat in the Highlands-only 35 miles from 29 million people,” said Rose Harvey, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land.

Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute, said, “Once again, Governor Pataki has shown an extraordinary commitment to open space protection in New York State. OSI and TPL are proud to have worked with the Governor to preserve Sterling Forest as an exceptional regional resource.”

“By adding to the magnificent Sterling Forest State Park, which is just 90 minutes from Manhattan, we are giving millions of New Yorkers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy outdoors New York at its natural best,” Governor Pataki said. “By working together, we have created an incredible State Park for generations of New Yorkers to hike its trails, gaze over its scenic vistas and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the forest.”

TPL and OSI negotiated an agreement with Zurich Centre Group to purchase approximately 1,100 acres for $8 million, with the State contributing $4 million. The bulk of the land to be purchased is located north of an existing Orange and Rockland power line that traverses Sterling Forest State Park. The 100-acre conference center, also part of the acquisition, is located on the south end of Sterling Lake and, as a result of the purchase, public access to the lake will be greatly enhanced. The closing is expected to occur in January 2001.

In addition, 659 acres were purchased from New York University for $860,000 through an agreement negotiated by the joint venture. Rugged yet scenic, the acres are situated on the east side of County Route 84, also referred to as Sterling Lake Road, in the town of Tuxedo, Orange County. The property borders Sterling Forest State Park to the east. The property was purchased using $360,000 in funds from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In addition, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the joint venture of the Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute each contributed $250,000 towards the purchase.

Title to these three acquisitions will be taken in the name of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC), which will allow for the payment of local taxes.

State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, “Today, Governor Pataki adds to this magnificent park through the Environmental Protection Fund. I commend him for protecting and preserving more open space and for enriching the lives of the tens of thousands of visitors who come to Sterling Forest State Park each year.”

“Thanks to Governor Pataki, who sees and acts to support this larger vision, and to the landowners and the many supporters of this vision in Washington, New Jersey and private foundations who have and will work to continue to make it happen and complete the picture,” said Harvey.

In February 1998, TPL and OSI completed negotiations that resulted in agreement to purchase the original 15,280 acres for the creation of Sterling Forest State Park. The groups joined the States of New York and New Jersey, PIPC, the federal government and numerous private partners to make the historic announcement.

Through their joint venture partnership, the Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute help government, businesses and community groups across New York State acquire and fund public lands. Together, the groups have protected more than 100,000 acres in New York, from one-acre lots to the 15,280-acre Sterling Forest.

The Trust for Public Land, founded in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. TPL has helped protect more than a million acres, valued at more than $1.8 billion. To date, more than 50,000 acres in New York have been protected with the help of the Trust for Public Land.

The Open Space Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting land in New York State, and supporting the efforts of citizen activists working to protect environmental quality in their communities. In less than two decades, OSI has protected over 70,000 acres for the benefit of the public, creating and adding to parks and preserves throughout New York.