Advancing a key initiative of Winnakee’s broadened conservation mission to save local forests
“Vlei Marsh boasts stunning views of the marshland area and contains a multi-looped existing trail system of 1.25 miles. With its proximity to Rhinebeck and scenic views, we imagine it will quickly become a community favorite destination.”
—BOB DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2021, Rhinebeck, NY
Winnakee Land Trust today announced the acquisition of two new properties consisting of 240 acres of new protected land and sensitive ecological and scenic landscapes. Located in the towns of Rhinebeck and Stanford, both lands protect locally significant forests, wetlands and wildlife habitats with unique ecological features. Both also have existing trail systems that will be enhanced and open to the public in May 2021.
The first property, tentatively called Vlei Marsh, is located off Vlei Road in the Town of Rhinebeck and as the second largest wetland area in Rhinebeck was identified as high priority for protection in the Town’s environmental plan. It consists of 165 acres, 90 acres of which are DEC designated wetlands, including 1,300 feet of headwaters of the Fallsburg Creek. The property is designated by the DEC as a Core Forest in a Forest Linkage Zone, meaning its intact forested connections between nearby matrix forest blocks allow animals and plants to move across the landscape. It is also designated as a DEC Significant Biodiversity Area in the Hudson Valley (with high concentrations of biodiversity or unique ecological features); it contains a wide diversity of bird life (including a heron rookery), beavers and amphibians.
“Vlei Marsh boasts stunning views of the marshland area and contains a multi-looped existing trail system of 1.25 miles. With its proximity to Rhinebeck and scenic views, we imagine it will quickly become a community favorite destination,” said Bob Davis, Executive Director. “Vlei also contains a high concentration of ecological assets, which will also make it a prime venue for future educational programming we are planning.”
The second property on Sisters Hill Road in the Town of Stanford consists of 75 acres, 8 acres of which are designated DEC wetland, containing a red maple swamp and Class B stream. It also contains a DEC Core Forest; Forest Linkage Zone and is designated by DEC as Core Habitat for Imperiled Species and a Significant Biodiversity Area in the Hudson Valley. It is permanently protected by a Dutchess Land Conservancy easement. Sisters has an existing railbed that will be the core of a new trail system, and Winnakee plans additional recreation improvements for the site. The new properties are owned by Winnakee and reflect its enhanced vision to increase holdings of high-value conservation lands and local forests.
While both properties are in good ecological health, Winnakee intends to develop management plans to mitigate invasive species, pests and pathogens and to implement water quality protections and other programs to monitor their long-term ecological health. “These acquisitions advance a key initiative of Winnakee’s broadened conservation mission,” said Carl E. Meyer, Board president. “With so many local forests on the precipice of generational change in the next ten years, we must act quickly to keep our forests intact.
Both of these additions to Winankee’s conservation holdings are great examples of what the recently announced update of our strategic plan envisions doing more of in the next decade.” “Winnakee is also thrilled to be adding additional scenic open spaces and trails for the community to explore, at a time when demand for outdoor recreation is at an all-time high. Both properties will bring a lot of joy, along with new educational opportunities to those who visit them,” added Meyer.
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