DEC ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF TWO COLUMBIA COUNTY PARCELS TOTALING 1,114 ACRES
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the state’s acquisition of two properties in Columbia County totaling 1,114 acres. DEC completed the purchase of 590 acres along the Hudson River in the town of Stockport, and 524 acres in the town of New Lebanon, doubling the size of the Hand Hollow State Forest, for a total of $6.7 million. The acquisitions will preserve critical open space, protect the region’s watershed, and expand recreational opportunities that support the local economy. The announcements were made at an event today in Columbia County as part of the State’s week long celebration of Earth Day.
DEC purchased the 590-acre tract along the Hudson River from Scenic Hudson for $4.6 million utilizing federal Pittman-Robertson Act funds. DEC is designating the parcel as the new Charles Flood Wildlife Management Area at the Empire Brickyard in memory of Charles Flood (1938-2015), who was strongly committed to protecting and connecting people to the Hudson Valley’s natural treasures and provided leadership support for Scenic Hudson’s work. Along with protecting wildlife habitat, the parcel expands and improves access for hunting, trapping, fishing and wildlife viewing.
The parcel has scenic vistas with more than two miles of frontage along the Hudson River and New York State Route 9J. It is recognized as an Archeological Site of Sensitivity by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is part of the Columbia-Green North Scenic Area of Statewide Significance by the state Department of State. Part of the parcel lies within the Stockport Creek and Flats Significant Coastal Fish & Wildlife Habitat as designated by the Department of State.
The habitat predominately includes upland mixed and conifer forest, upland shrubland, freshwater tidal marsh, and contains segments of 11 Hudson River tributaries. A number of rare and threatened plant species can be found on the site. The protection of this land will help buffer sea level rise impacts and other effects of climate change. It will also be managed as a part of DEC’s Young Forest Initiative, designed to enhance declining early successional habitats and the wildlife that depend on them. The site supports bald eagles, black ducks, great blue herons, egrets and numerous other waterfowl, marsh birds, and songbirds. It also serves as important spawning, nursery, and refuge habitat for coastal migratory and resident fish including striped bass, alewife, blueback herring, American eel, American shad, white perch, and the state and federally endangered shortnose sturgeon.
DEC purchased 524 acres from the Open Space Institute (OSI) for approximately $2.1 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to add to New York’s 518-acre Hand Hollow State Forest. The newly acquired parcels include forestland, meadows, ponds, streams, and wetlands that were identified by DEC as regional conservation priorities. They will help protect the Housatonic and Middle Hudson watersheds, and continue the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases through forest carbon sequestration.
Hand Hollow State Forest is managed by DEC for multiple uses, including recreation, timber production, watershed protection, and wildlife habitat. The forest’s recreational opportunities include hiking, biking, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, and photography. It has a number of accessible features that allow people of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy what the area has to offer, including a trail open to motorized use by permit for people with disabilities and an accessible fishing dock at the onsite pond