Sterling Forest State Park (NY) Gains 1,065 Acres

New York– The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute announced today the purchase of 1,065 acres of interior woodland to be added to Sterling Forest State Park, managed under the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC). The $7.89 million acquisition includes 90 acres of land at the south end of Sterling Lake with a conference center to be used for environmental education. With this new acquisition, 95% of the approximately 19,500-acre Sterling Forest has been protected as parkland for future generations.

In addition to a $4 million contribution from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, critical funding for this purchase was provided by the federal Forest Legacy Program ($2 million), the State of New Jersey ($1 million), the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands ($550,000), and PIPC ($200,000) with the balance of the purchase price contributed by TPL.

In addition, 128 acres of the total 1,065 acres were protected in a separate transaction by the Beaverkill Conservancy, Inc., the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute. The Beaverkill Conservancy acquired this land with a grant from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands, established by the founders of The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

This acquisition continues the ongoing efforts of the Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute to protect Sterling Forest. In February 1998, TPL and OSI completed negotiations that resulted in the $55 million purchase of 15,280 acres for the creation of Sterling Forest State Park. Last November the groups protected an additional 659 acres through a purchase from New York University.

“The support and leadership of Governor Pataki was essential to the success of our efforts to protect Sterling Forest. This monumental achievement is also due to the efforts of Governor Whitman, the federal congressional delegation and the partnership of public agencies, private organizations and individual citizens who have all contributed a great deal to this effort,” said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the Trust for Public Land’s Highlands Initiative.

“Today’s closing on more than 1,000 acres of land in Sterling Forest is a continuation of our commitment to preserving most of the last unprotected open lands in the forest,” said Governor Christie Whitman. “The protection of these acres, in addition to those that have already been preserved, will help protect the water quality and supply for over 2 million residents of northern New Jersey.”

“The Wallace Fund has been one of the foremost supporters of the creation of Sterling Forest State Park,” said OSI’s President Joe Martens. “Their support and vision, coupled with generous public funding from New York, New Jersey and the federal government, prevented a large-scale residential and commercial development in the midst of this beautiful landscape.”

Federal funding and support were critical in this purchase, as well as during the original acquisition in 1998. “The Clinton Administration has committed considerable resources to creating new public access and preserving the important ecological values of Sterling Forest,” said Jim Lyons, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment (USDA). “Protecting this important natural resource has great personal significance to me because I grew up not far from here and now my children and grandchildren will be able to experience this special place just as I did.”

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations committee, I have been extremely pleased to help secure federal funds to support the acquisition of Sterling Forest. As I leave the Senate, I am gratified that this incredible conservation opportunity has been completed,” said Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

“Helping to protect the critical woodlands and wildlife habitat of the Sterling Forest area from development has been an immensely gratifying experience. Its impact on northern New Jersey cannot be underestimated. As an appropriator, I was happy to work with my colleagues to get funding for this important property,” said Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-NJ 11th District).

“The recent acquisition of additional acres to add to Sterling Forest is a tremendous environmental achievement for the state of New York. I’m particularly happy to have been able to facilitate this remarkable acquisition,” said Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of (D-NY).

“The success of our endeavor to acquire an additional 1,065 acres for Sterling Forest, was due to the tireless efforts of local citizens, Governors Pataki and Whitman, and our friends in the environmental community, such as the Trust for Public Land. Sterling Forest is a natural treasure to our Hudson Valley region. The expansion of this majestic greenway will play a vital role in our efforts to protect drinking water supplies, wildlife, and recreational space, and will provide a better quality of life for the people of New York and New Jersey,” said Representative Benjamin Gilman, (R-NY 20th District).

“With the completion of this sale, we have saved virtually all of Sterling Forest. This is an incredible victory for the people of northern New Jersey, who count on Sterling Forest not just as a scenic environmental treasure but also as their primary source of clean drinking water. The protection of this unique natural resource in a region struggling to grapple with urban sprawl is of the utmost importance,” said Representative Marge Roukema (R-NJ 5th District).

“The most recent purchase of 1,065 acres to add to Sterling Forest is a remarkable example of what happens when federal, state and private interests work together to conserve land for the people,” said Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ).

“The purchase of over one thousand acres of Sterling Forest will help ensure that future generations can enjoy the forest for years to come. I’m thrilled that the federal government could play a role in helping to preserve one of New York and New Jersey’s most cherished natural treasures,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).

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.

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, including more than 55,000 acres in New York.

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.

Click here for a map of Sterling Forest.