NEW YORK – Imagine being able to walk from Wurtsboro to Rosendale — you will soon be able to. The Open Space Institute announced the acquisition of the "Kaufman" property, which covers the western face of the Shawangunk Ridge, above the Village of Wurtsboro, north of the Bashakill Wildlife Preserve. The property sits within the large curve of Mamakating Road as it descends down the ridge and will offer a connection from the Bashakill to the Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. That then links to the Roosa Gap Forest, and beyond that, the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. The string of state forests reaches all the way to Route 52 and Cragsmoor, tying it all together.
Dene Lee, Senior Project Manager for the OSI, said, "We are pleased to announce this acquisition as part of the effort to protect the Bashakill Wildlife area, and the state forests on the Shawangunk Ridge. This will also buffer the trail system as well as protect the wild life in the area."
Three important trails come together in the Bashakill/Wurtsboro area, the Long Path, the Shawangunk Ridge Trail and the O&W Canal Path and Rail Trail. The Kaufman property will be held by the OSI, while preparations are completed for it to be acquired by the Department of Environmental Conservation as an addition to the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area.
"We are thrilled with the Open Space Institute’s acquisition of this important property immediately adjacent to the Bashakill WMA," said NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Conserving this parcel provides additional protection to headwaters of the Bashakill wetland and to the Shawangunk Ridge overlooking this important area for wildlife and public enjoyment."
The Bashakill Area Association’s Paula Medley said, "We’re ecstatic with the fact that we can now connect the Bashakill WMA to the Shawangunk Ridge via the Kaufman property, and then to the state forests there. This means that you will be able to hike from the Bashakill all the way up to Cragsmoor over conserved land. We are so grateful to the OSI for all their incredible work through the years in conserving open space, particularly their recent activity in the southern Gunks."
Indeed, the Kaufman acquisition completes the OSI’s work at the Bashakill, where they conserved 3,107 acres back in the 1970s, in one of their earliest projects. The Bashakill now holds more than 4,100 acres.
Some of the most significant aspects of this land acquisition come from the way the three trails that cross the Bashakill will connect up. The two long distance trails, the Long Path and the Shawangunk Ridge Trail can be relocated up onto the ridge and not have to run on roads in Wurtsboro. The Shawangunk Ridge Trail extends 71 miles from the High Point State Park in New Jersey, on the Kittatinny Ridge up to the northern end of the Mohonk Preserve in Rosendale.
Over the past 30 years, OSI along with partnering organizations, has pulled together more than 50,000 acres of property under conservation, building the Bashakill WMA, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Sam’s Point Preserve and Mohonk Preserve, turning much of the magnificent Shawangunk Ridge into an ecological greenway for both hikers and wildlife.