As its name signifies, the Preserve’s Land Protection program helps fulfill our commitment to permanently protecting the land needed for quality natural communities and habitats, and public recreational and restorative space.
In 2015, the Preserve hired our first Land & Boundary Steward, Ed Pestone, who focused on monitoring, record-keeping and report writing for both Preserve-owned lands and conservation easement lands. Ed, who is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with extensive experience with surveying, mapping and fieldwork, has dramatically improved signage along Preserve boundaries, and alerted staff to any stewardship issues on the land.
Land Protection staff also monitored all 16 of the Preserve’s conservation easement properties, and inspected over 28 miles (1/3) of the Preserve’s boundary. In addition, staff marked the boundaries of all 857 acres of the newly acquired Mohonk Preserve Foothills property.
Throughout 2015, Land Protection staff participated in the ongoing planning process for the Mohonk Preserve Foothills. Land Protection and other Preserve staff participated in meetings with the Town of New Paltz Planning Board and Historic Preservation Commission, and met with neighbors and community members to discuss the Preserve’s plans for safe, managed public access to this landmark landscape.
In July 2015, after over a decade of litigation, the Preserve prevailed in a case involving adverse property claims by private landowners to 71.45 acres of Preserve land in the Town of Rochester. The State of New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled in favor of the Preserve in a unanimous decision on both the facts and the law of this case. Unfortunately, the private landowners have continued to pursue unsuccessful appeals, which have been rejected by the New York State Court of Appeals, along with further attempts to cloud the title to these same Preserve lands. These challenges affirm the importance of our continued vigilant land protection efforts.
The Preserve remains committed to keeping the promise of permanent land protection by preserving and, when necessary, legally defending the lands entrusted to us, and by upholding and advancing the Preserve’s stewardship ethic in perpetuity.