FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE04-02
Acquires Conservation Easement on 463-Acre Parcel in Shandaken
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 conservation easement on a 463-acre
parcel in the Town of Shandaken, Ulster County.
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 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.”
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 conservation
easement in Shandaken will help to protect the Catskill/Delaware water
systems, which together provide the City and one million upstate residents
with over 90 percent of their daily water supply from the Catskill Mountains
west of the Hudson River in conjunction with the West Branch Reservoir
in Putnam County and the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester.
Over 52,000 acres of land and easements in Catskill/Delaware have been
secured since 1997, including over 6,500 acres placed under farm easements
by the Watershed Agricultural Council using City funds. The City now owns
7.9% of the 1.05-million-acre (1,640-square-mile) Catskill/Delaware watershed,
up from 3.7% in 1997.
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. 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
The DEP has also recently 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.
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.