FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE04-01
York City Acquires Two More Parcels in Its East of Hudson Watershed
Announcement Last Month That City Has Acquired Over 53,000 Acres Under
Its Land Acquisition Program
Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) announced today that as part of its continuing watershed
protection program the DEP has acquired a 339-acre conservation easement
in the Town of Kent, Putnam County, and has purchased a 12-acre parcel
in the Town of North Castle, Westchester County. The two transactions
will help to protect the drainage areas of the West Branch Reservoir and
the Kensico Reservoir, respectively, which are both important parts of
the City’s Catskill/Delaware water systems.
The announcement comes less than one month after New York Mayor Michael
R. Bloomberg and U. S. EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt announced that
the City was committing an additional $25 million for land acquisition
in the neighboring Croton watershed. The City has secured over 53,000
acres in its watersheds since 1997.
“Land acquisition allows the City to forever protect valuable
watershed property from development and pollution,” said Commissioner
Ward. “The response from landowners to the Program has been remarkable.
To date, over 680 willing sellers have agreed to accept the City’s
fair-market-value purchase offers, either selling land outright or granting
conservation easements. We will continue to identify strategic properties
through this successful program through at least 2007.”
New York City has to date purchased 112 acres and acquired an additional
87 acres under conservation easement in the high-priority Kensico Reservoir
basin. An additional four-acre parcel of commercially-zoned land is being
donated to the City and is expected to be conveyed in late-2004. In the
West Branch Reservoir basin in Putnam and Dutchess Counties the City has
to date secured 8,009 acres, of which 550 acres are conservation easements.
Lands under conservation easement remain in private ownership and will
not be opened to the public, while the easements are monitored by the
City to prevent adverse impacts to water quality and to assist landowners
wherever possible in protecting their natural resource base.
The 53,000 acres of land and easements acquired or under contract throughout
the watershed (in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and five counties west
of the Hudson River) involve over 680 parcels, including about 6,500 acres
of farm easements that are being acquired by the Watershed Agricultural
Council. The City’s acquisitions in the Croton system (primarily
in Yorktown, in the New Croton Reservoir Basin), along with several purchases
by New York State, total about 1,200 acres.
The Land Acquisition Program acquires land or conservation easements
at fair market value from willing sellers only, and pays property taxes
in proportion to the property rights acquired. Landowners are therefore
paid upfront for development rights and are relieved of significant property
tax burdens in perpetuity. Landowners can generally continue to harvest
timber and bluestone from the land under good management plans approved
by the DEP. Under this arrangement, the DEP is effectively paying good
land stewards to continue to care for their land, protect their views
from development and enjoy passive recreational opportunities. For more
information, landowners can contact the DEP’s Land Acquisition Program
at (800) 575-LAND.
The City has opened over 43,000 acres of its watershed land to public
recreation, including over 27,000 acres of the land acquired under the
Land Acquisition Program. The DEP has issued over 67,000 public access
permits and over 6,300 hunting tags to people wanting to use City watershed
property for recreation. There were also almost 10,000 boat tags issued
in 2003 for people to use boats on City reservoirs.