History of Wallkill
Valley Land Trust:
More than 30 Years of
The Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) was formed in 1987 by a group of residents who, with the support and guidance of the Trust for Public Land, came together with the goal of protecting open space in the Wallkill Valley region of Ulster County for future generations.
WVLT’s first signed easement was created in 1990 with the Kellar Farm Easement, protecting 88 acres of agricultural land, much of which borders the Wallkill River in the Town of Esopus. Kellar was not our “first” easement though; our initial land preservation work began with Trina Greene to protect her 7.3-acre property along the Wallkill River in Gardiner. That easement was completed in 1991.
The Birth of the
Once our conservation easement work was on a steady footing, WVLT decided to take on a challenging but rewarding public project: the purchase in 1991 of the old Wallkill Valley Rail Road right-of-way. New Paltz Town and Village immediately accepted ownership of their sections with signed easements; thus the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail was born. Completing an 8.5 acre easement in Gardiner in 1992 with William and Anne Finn showed that WVLT could successfully balance both private and public easement work.
Today, we continue to monitor the 22+ miles of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to ensure the proper management of conservation easements, maintain the trail and trestle conditions, as well as promote the usage of the trail and Joppenbergh Mountain to local residents and visitors.
Since our founding in 1987, WVLT has made great strides in our efforts to protect open space, trails and farms. Today, we are responsible for the preservation of over 3,000 acres in the Ulster County region of the Hudson Valley. Some highlighted projects include the Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary in New Paltz, the Mill Brook Preserve in New Paltz, and an Endangered Eastern Box Turtle Habitat in Gardiner.
Expansion of Land Conservation
Achieving the distinction of accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission highlights our dedication and commitment to operate at the highest standards for land trusts. Our efforts will help make the Mid-Hudson Valley an even better place for future generations to live, work, and play.
Since 2009, WVLT and OSI worked tirelessly on what became a four-year, $1.5 Million Campaign to restore the trestle in Rosendale and open the Rosendale and Ulster sections of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to the public. In June 2013 over 500 people joined us for the grand opening of the Rosendale Trestle. This landmark remains a highlight of the now 22+mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Exactly a year later, WVLT celebrated the opening of the “Connector Trail” – a stone 92-step trail at the south end of the Trestle, which allows users to travel to and from Rosendale’s Main Street.
In October 2011, OSI acquired the 495-foot high Joppenbergh Mountain in Rosendale. The 118 acre property has numerous cliffs and expansive views of the Hudson River Valley. OSI conveyed Joppenbergh Mountain to WVLT in December 2011. WVLT continues to manage the land for public use and habitat protection. WVLT’s Joppenbergh Land Management Plan, completed in 2012, outlines future hiking, multi-use and single-track bicycle trails, many of which are under development now (2019-2020).
Farmland preservation, a key focus of WVLT’s mission, has continued throughout the past three decades.
Among the major farms preserved in WVLT’s early years were Phillies Bridge Farm (noted as the first educational CSA in Ulster County), the Grace Elliot Farm, and the Bontecou Farm. Another notable moment was WVLT’s successful partnership with Open Space Institute to preserve two farms on Huguenot Street in the Town and Village of New Paltz. In 2006, we jointly raised funds to purchase the development rights of two adjacent farms – the Khosla Easement (Huguenot Street Farm CSA) and the Jewett Farm. This project successfully protected 180 acres, allowing them to remain in private hands as active farmlands, forever.
In 2008, the Rossetter Easement, 51 acres in the Town of Gardiner, included creating a CSA complete with a young farming family. Old Ford Farm remains a successful CSA today. Most recently, WVLT partnered iwth Ulster County, the Town of New Paltz and Scenic Hudson to protect Taliaferro Farm CSA, 32 acres of active farmland bordering the Wallkill River.
In 2016, WVLT announced that we had been granted accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission- a mark of honor and distinction in the field of land conservation. The achievement of accreditation validates the Commission’s confidence that WVLT meets national standards of professionalism in the area of land conservation, and that it has the long-term capacity to continue to preserve and manage land into the future.
Land Trust Accreditation
We are proud of the many achievements the WVLT has made over our first 32 years here in southern Ulster County. As we look ahead, we realize our mission requires increasing our efforts to protect and enhance the future quality of life in our region. This includes conserving many more of the scenic vistas, local farms, wildlife habitats and lands of historical and cultural significance that make living here so special.
Thank you to everyone who has been with us from the beginning, and to those who have joined us along the way. We are all making sure tomorrow will be protected for future generations.