"Scenic Hudson Press Release"
Contact: Jay Burgess, Director of Communications, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 19, 2012 Columbia County Land Deal Protects Olana Views, Farmland, Critical Wildlife Habitats Latest victory in campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most GREENPORT (Columbia County)—Building on its record of conserving lands that contribute to the quality of life and prosperity of valley communities, Scenic Hudson has acquired 148 scenic and ecologically important acres in Greenport. The transaction is the latest victory in the organization’s ongoing Saving the Land That Matters Most campaign. Located adjacent to Hudson South Bay, the land features an extraordinary mosaic of forests, meadows, high-quality agricultural soils, wetlands, impressive clay bluffs and 4,200 feet of shoreline along South Bay Creek (also known as Cashaway’s Creek), which flows into the Hudson River through South Bay. Transaction safeguards spectacular Olana views, prime farmland A large portion of the property is prominently visible from Olana State Historic Site, whose spectacular vistas contribute significantly to its popularity as one of the region’s top tourism destinations, attracting more than 170,000 visitors annually and generating nearly $8 million of economic stimulus each year in surrounding communities. Since 1992 Scenic Hudson and its conservation partners have protected more than 2,400 acres visible from Olana. In addition, nearly 50 acres of the protected property contain USDA Prime Farmland and Soils of Statewide Significance. Since 1992 Scenic Hudson has conserved nearly 5,500 acres of farmland in Columbia County critical for sustaining the agriculture-based economies of its rural communities. Deal protects land’s great biological diversity, wildlife habitats Conserving the land’s great biological diversity also ensures the property will continue providing habitat for myriad wildlife, including several rare plant species. And by preserving land along South Bay Creek and its adjacent wetlands, the transaction will help protect the South Bay watershed and serve as a buffer for sea-level rise triggered by climate change. In addition, the property will allow for the inland migration of species whose habitats face inundation by rising waters. Since the 1980s Scenic Hudson has been a vigorous advocate for South Bay’s ecological restoration. In the future the newly protected land could provide an exciting way to connect people to the bay. Land preservation boosts economic opportunity Scenic Hudson pursues its campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most realizing that preserving land provides the cornerstone of a sustainable Hudson Valley economy. Tourism in the 10-county region generates $4.7 billion in spending annually and sustains 80,000 jobs. Annual tourism spending in Columbia County is $105 million and supports nearly 1,500 jobs. Protected lands also help grow other parts of the economy. A study by the Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start firms rank quality of life—including an abundance of parks and open space—higher than housing, cost of living and good schools. Speaking about the land deal, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “We’re very excited about seizing this opportunity to conserve land along South Bay. Safeguarding this property’s natural treasures not only supports ongoing efforts to restore the bay’s ecological health—essential for achieving its potential as an outstanding recreational resource—but ensures that visitors to Olana will continue being inspired by its world-class views.” Steve Rosenberg, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, added, “Preserving this astonishingly beautiful property embodies so many aspects of Scenic Hudson’s work—supporting tourism and agriculture, and sustaining the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary biological diversity. For this reason, it’s a critical part of what we call ‘The Land That Matters Most.’ We applaud the landowners, whose generosity and commitment to conservation made this possible.” Scenic Hudson Senior Land Project Manager Kelly Boling negotiated the transaction with the landowners, Lee Dansky and Leonard Daniels, who charitably conveyed a portion of the property’s value to Scenic Hudson. Lee Dansky said, “Our parents, who bought the property back in 1929 and are longer with us, would be thrilled to know that this land will be kept intact and used for conservation purposes.” Conserving natural areas improves human health Protecting open space also offers myriad human health benefits. Trees sequester pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, while releasing oxygen. In addition to helping keep drinking water clean and avoid flooding, conserved land maintains biodiversity, which plays an important role in preventing diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Conserving large, contiguous landscapes links and expands habitat networks on which many wildlife species depend and ensures that development-sensitive species, such as migratory songbirds and vernal pool amphibians, continue to thrive. Scenic Hudson’s parks also encourage people to be active, contributing to their better overall health. Collaborative campaign targets protecting valley’s most important landscapes Scenic Hudson’s campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most is a multi-year, collaborative effort with fellow land trusts, governments, individuals and businesses to protect lands of the highest scenic, ecological and agricultural significance throughout the Hudson Valley. Since initiating the campaign in 2007, Scenic Hudson has conserved almost 6,300 acres and our land trust partners more than 2,200 acres. This transaction was completed with funds from Scenic Hudson’s Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment. About Scenic Hudson Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 50 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved over 30,000 acres. www.scenichudson.org.