Winnakee Land Trust Acquires 700 Acres
“Acquisition of these extraordinary properties offers unique benefits for our local communities. In addition to protecting and preserving threatened natural habitats, vulnerable watersheds and productive farmlands, the acquisitions afford Winnakee the opportunity to design and conduct natural resource management plans to strengthen the ecosystem’s capacity to adapt to shifting climate patterns. Each of us will benefit from Winnakee’s protection of these critical local lands, which provide us with clean drinking water, recreational opportunities such as quiet walks through unique woodlands, and protection of our neighborhoods from major floods.”–Carl Meyer, Board President
Rhinebeck, NY – Building on its thirty-year legacy of protecting Dutchess County’s sensitive ecological and scenic landscapes, Winnakee Land Trust today announced the acquisition of six properties consisting of 700 acres in new protected land.
Located in the towns of Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Clinton, Milan, and Pleasant Valley, these lands protect locally significant forests, riparian buffers, wetlands, swamps, bogs, and vernal pools, according to Winnakee’s Board of Trustees. Large portions of the lands are designated by the New York Natural Heritage Program as “important areas for rare plants, birds, wetland animals, terrestrial animals and threatened and imperiled species habitats, and by the DEC as Significant Biodiversity Areas.”
Said Carl Meyer, Board President, “Acquisition of these extraordinary properties offers unique benefits for our local communities. In addition to protecting and preserving threatened natural habitats, vulnerable watersheds and productive farmlands, the acquisitions afford Winnakee the opportunity to design and conduct natural resource management plans to strengthen the ecosystem’s capacity to adapt to shifting climate patterns. Each of us will benefit from Winnakee’s protection of these critical local lands, which provide us with clean drinking water, recreational opportunities such as quiet walks through unique woodlands, and protection of our neighborhoods from major floods.”
The new properties are all owned by Winnakee and reflect its enhanced vision to increase holdings of high-value conservation lands and local forests. Winnakee intends to develop management plans to address habitat loss for rare and threatened species; mitigation of invasive species, pests and pathogens; forest fragmentation; soil erosion, and water quality protections. This is part of Winnakee’s conservation strategy to undertake a more active role in restoration of ecological assets on lands Winnakee owns and protects through conservation easements.
“Winnakee is seeking to extend its impact on our region’s long-term resilience,” said Carl Meyer, Board President. “These acquisitions build on Winnakee’s history that began in 1989 to conserve Hudson Valley lands and connect communities. 2020, to date, has been a transformational year for Winnakee with more land conservation projects in motion than ever before in our history.”
Meyer added that central to the advancement of Winnakee’s recent conservation growth has been the leadership of Winnakee’s new Executive Director Bob Davis, who joined Winnakee in April 2019. The leader most recently served as Director of Forest Properties and Professor of the Practice of Forestry at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Davis’s long career in forestry and natural resource management provides Winnakee with a unique capability to develop conservation management plans for its own properties and to assist property owners that grant conservation easements to Winnakee.
“Winnakee recognizes that forest lands are vital to NY’s ecological and economic well-being. The protection of our forests – and particularly our working forests – is a new initiative for Winnakee and is unique to the land trust world in New York State,” said Davis. “We are most grateful to the generous donors who entrust their lands to Winnakee for preservation and conservation.”
Several of the properties were donated to Winnakee through new partnerships forged with The Nature Conservancy and landowners attracted by Winnakee’s expanded conservation strategy that aligns with the long-term stewardship goals they envisioned for their lands.
“The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to see a local land trust leverage its strength and expand its conservation of natural resources to a new regional level. Winnakee’s stewardship plans for the lands we donated will have a strong and positive impact on local environmental health and bring multiple benefits to the community,” said Matt Levy, Land Protection Manager, The Nature Conservancy.
List of Winnakee’s New Owned Properties:
Note: For now, the Saw Kill property will remain closed to the public. Other than Zipfeldberg Bog, all properties are open to the public on a limited basis until access improvements are developed. Please call Warren Rosenthal, Winnakee Land Protection Manager, for more information.
SAW KILL WATER QUALITY PROTECTION PROJECT
This project conserves 335 acres of high-value conservation land along the Saw Kill in the Town of Red Hook, protecting a critical water source for Bard College. The purchase was a public private partnership between Winnakee, NYSDEC and the Town of Red Hook. The Saw Kill Water Quality Protection Project was purchased with funds from the CWIA/EPF Water Quality Improvement Project Grant administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Details will be included in a future press release.
Located in an area deemed irreplaceable by Scenic Hudson, this stunning 105-acre landscape in the Town of Stanford, includes forested land with habitats for three Species of Special Concern in NYS: New England Cottontail, Golden-Winged Warbler, and the American Woodcock. This property was purchased with help from The 1971 Foundation and the Anna Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation.
This 105-acre high-conservation value property in the Town of Milan consists of a diverse array of habitats, including upland hardwood forests, meadows, hardwood and shrub swamps, riparian zones, perennial and intermittent streams. This property was generously donated by Alice Henkin.
Zipfeldberg Bog, located on a 60-acre property in the Town of Clinton, contains an acidic dwarf shrub bog, a uniquely-rare bog form in Dutchess County. As the largest of such bogs in the region, this bog houses locally-rare species of plants and animals, including the white-fringed orchid, pitcher-plant, and rare dragonflies. Birds such as the Golden-Winged Warbler, critically threatened in New York, use these bogs as part of their habitat. This property was generously donated by The Nature Conservancy.
PINE HILL WOODS
This 35-acre property in the Town of Pleasant Valley was conserved for decades by a life-long conservation educator who passed away in November 2019. It includes a locally significant forest of Northern hardwood-hemlock, a shrub bog, vernal pools, a pond and streams. Hudsonia also identified a significant Buttonbush pool, which is permanently flooded on the land and serves as core habitat for the Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species in NY, and for spotted turtles, wood ducks and black ducks. This property was generously donated by Jean Povolchik.
PRIMROSE HILL (JOBSON SWAMP)
Zoned a conservation area in the Town of Rhinebeck and designated as part of a NY Natural Heritage Significant Biodiversity Area in the Hudson Valley, this 60 acre property includes a locally Significant Forest Northern hardwood-hemlock and red maple forest, a cattail swamp, a protected wetland Area for Rare Plants and Wetland Animals, including a nesting population of wood ducks. This property was generously donated by The Nature Conservancy. The original Baker/Raylman tract was donated to TNC in memory of their grandparents, Mr. Arthur Baker and Mrs. Teresa Modolo.