Awosting Reserve: Hurray and Congratulations!
A Shawangunk Ridge Success Story!
The Awosting Reserve has been preserved! On March 14, 2006, the Trust for Public Land and the office of Governor Pataki announced that the land purchase had been finalized and the reserve’s 2,518 acres added to Minnewaska State Park. This protects four miles along the ridge, located directly below Minnewaska State park and adjacent to Sam’s Point Preserve and Mohonk Preserve. This great success was achieved by the dedicated efforts of countless individuals and the coordinated work of numerous organizations — especially Save the Ridge — that are members of the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition.
The state purchased the parkland from the Trust for Public Land, which negotiated the agreement along with the Open Space Institute. The $17 million purchase is being supported through the state's Environmental Protection Fund.
Just how the reserve will be managed for public use is to be determined. Former owner John Bradley retains approximately 200 acres; the Palmaghatt Kill is a boundary line.
The original proposal for the Awosting Reserve called for 349 luxury homes to be built right up to the cliffs at Gertrude's Nose, Hamilton Point, and around Mud Pond, located directly below Minnewaska State Park and adjacent to Sam's Point Preserve and Mohonk Preserve.
Intense opposition to the plan and zoning and planning complications slowed progress on the proposal, which was further stalled by legal wrangling among the developers.
The plans were withdrawn in large part because they required a central sewage system and cluster housing, neither of which is permitted in the town.
Before the developers withdrew their proposal, Shawangunk Ridge Coalition members were examining the impacts of developing the land and were preparing for the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). Several categories of impacts were identified that the state recognizes as potentially harmful to the public interest. These include water and hydrogeology, biology, air, noise and light pollution, economic and community impacts, viewshed, public health, traffic, historical/archeological, and recreation, to name a few.
The towns of Gardiner and Shawangunk, the two towns in which the lands lie, are in the process of revising their master plans and zoning laws. The land in Awosting Reserve supports an outstanding diversity of wildlife and plants, including the largest continuous dwarf pitch-pine forest on bedrock in the world. Rare and endangered species include 22 animals and 26 plants. Thirteen natural communities (habitats) are also in peril. Broken forests threaten the survival of many of these. Developments on these lands threaten to spoil views, water resources, and the rural economy.
In November 2005, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that it had signed a contract for the purchase of 2,500 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge parcel known as the Awosting Reserve. The deal was concluded in March 2006 and the land immediately sold to New York State and added to Minnewaska State Park.
See Save the Gunks and News Articles for more information. Save the Gunks (aka SavetheRidge.com) is one of our member organizations; we work closely together.
To view the Biodiversity Partnership report on impacts click here: http://www.mohonkpreserve.org/index.php?protection#awostingdev