Purchasing land or securing a conservation easement is just the first step in stewardship-based land protection. Mohonk Preserve’s philosophy involves actively managing land by determining appropriate uses and then consciously planning to balance access with protection.
In the case of the Mohonk Preserve Foothills, this has involved a lengthy planning process that is still ongoing. In 2011, after agreeing to manage and, as resources permitted, purchase the land now designated as the Mohonk Preserve Foothills, the Preserve undertook an extensive, community conservation-based planning process to create a Land Asset Management Plan for the Mohonk Preserve Foothills.
Comprehensive planning continued in 2013 with a Trail & Connectivity Master Plan for the entire Foothills landscape and planning for a formal trailhead entrance to the Mohonk Preserve Foothills. These planning processes included multiple meetings with our neighbors and the community, resulting in the development of a full site plan for the Mohonk Preserve Foothills.
In 2014, the Preserve formally submitted a site plan for the Mohonk Preserve Foothills Project to the Town of New Paltz Planning Board and in 2015, the Planning Board commenced the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process, opening a Public Hearing and reviewing the Preserve’s extensive independent reports and studies on the environmental, agricultural, cultural, transportation and historical aspects of the project.
The Mohonk Preserve Foothills Project has been carefully designed with neighbor and community input to provide safe, controlled access to the Foothills, while also optimizing recreational, educational, and conservation science opportunities. The footprint of all proposed, carefully sited visitor amenities comprises under 7 acres – less than 1 percent of the 857-acre Mohonk Preserve Foothills landscape – at two different sites, one near the Testimonial Gateway Tower and one near Humpo Marsh.
Upon completion of the project, the Mohonk Preserve Foothills landscape will remain in its current state – wide-open farmlands, marshlands, extensive tree cover, numerous historic structures, and glorious vistas. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the community on safe, managed access to the Mohonk Preserve Foothills and to inviting neighbors and visitors to participate in and actively support stewardship of these remarkable lands.