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March 24, 2004

Contact: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

Department of Environmental Protection Acquires Conservation Easement on 26 Acres in Yorktown

DEP Commissioner Ward in Yorktown For Presentation to Teatown Lake Reservation

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 permanent conservation easement on 26 acres of land in Yorktown that is owned by the Teatown Lake Reservation.

Commissioner Ward will be in Yorktown at 3:00 P.M. today to mark the occasion at the nature center. The Teatown Lake Reservation is located at 1600 Spring Valley Road. For directions, call Teatown at (914) 762-2912.

“Land acquisition and conservation easements allow 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 Yorktown will help to protect the Croton water system, which provides around ten percent of the City’s daily water supply and serves numerous Westchester and Putnam communities.

Since the inception of the Land Acquisition Program in 1997, 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. Over 53,000 acres of land and conservation easements in the mostly West of Hudson Catskill/Delaware watershed have been secured, including over 6,500 acres placed under farm easements by the Watershed Agricultural Council using City funds.

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 by the Land Acquisition Program under the MOA. DEP has issued more than 67,000 access permits, over 6,300 hunting tags, and almost 10,000 boat tags to people wanting to use City watershed property for recreation. For more information on how to get a DEP Access Permit, visit the DEP Web site at nyc.gov/watershed or call (800) 575-LAND.


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