Land Acquisition To Expand Minnewaska Preserve

Lands bordering Sam’s Point were acquired by the Open Space Institute (OSI) in late September with plans to commit them to expanding Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

The designated land, which includes 75 undeveloped acres along the south-eastern edge of Sam’s Point and a length of the Verkeederkill stream, was purchased by the OSI for $227,000. OSI hopes to hand over stewardship to the New York State Park Service in the coming months.

“The Open Space Institute has a long partnership in protecting the Shawangunk Ridge, and with Minnewaska State Park,” Eileen Larrabee, Associate Director of the Alliance of New York State Parks, said. “The model used here and in the past is to acquire pockets of land and transfer them into the care of the state park.”

This purchase is the latest in a series of OSI-acquired additions to Minnewaska Park, stretching back over 40 years of the Institute’s operation. OSI and its affiliates have doubled the size of the park in the last 20 years. Thirteen thousand acres have been added through 40 separate transactions to create the 22,000 acre park. The January transfer of Sam’s Point alone expanded the park by 1,068 acres.

Other recent consignments include Mount Don Bosco, the last unprotected stretch of historic carriage road and the South Gully, a ravine encompassing part of the Long Path trail, six waterfalls and the South Gully Brook on the west side of Minnewaska.

The property formerly belonged to the Schneller family. Patriarch Alfred Schneller, a World War II veteran and conservation officer for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation who grew up in the Shawangunks, purchased the land in the 1970s. Schneller died in his mid-fifties, leaving the land to his children with the request that it not be sold.

“I know he was anxious about development,” his daughter, Karen Schneller-McDonald, said. “In selling this piece to become part of a larger protected area for the public to enjoy, I hope we have honored the spirit of his request.”

Although the family did not own the land during her childhood, Schneller-McDonald has fond memories of picking blueberries and swimming at Lake Awosting. The family has retained a section just under 12 acres which leads to the center of the reserve for hiking and picnicking.

Schneller-McDonald, the president of natural resource consultants Hickory Creek Consulting LLC, would like to be active in continued conservation efforts.

“I would encourage those with land in the area to set it up as easements to protect it from development,” she said.

OSI has been involved in conserving a 50-mile corridor from Kingston to Port Jervois as publicly accessible land for 28 years. The three primary recreational areas in the region – the Mohonk, Minnewaska State Park and Sam’s Point Preserves – together provide $12.3 million in revenue and make for 358 local jobs.