State Senator Thomas P. Morahan joined Governor George E. Pataki in announcing the acquisition of 575 acres to expand Sterling Forest State Park in Orange County. The new property increases the size of Sterling Forest to more than 18,200 acres of forests, lakes, streams, and other sensitive natural resources, one of the largest state parks in New York. The scenic acreage purchased is surrounded by the public parkland and had been vulnerable to development.
"This magnificent resource is located in my district. The acquisition of 575 acres for Sterling Forest will help ensure a positive legacy for this extraordinary park. I am proud to have joined with environmental advocates in urging the Governor and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to preserve the environmental integrity and critical resources of Sterling Forest, especially the threatened species that our State is mandated to protect," said Senator Morahan.
The property, known as the Sterling Forge parcel, consists of an irregularly shaped 575 acre parcel with extensive frontage along both the southeast and northwest sides of County Route 84, Long Meadow Road. The site’s topography varies from level/rolling land to steeply sloping and the southern section of the property features a 36-acre pond. There is also a 15-acre wetland area at the easternmost section of the property and various other wetlands, totaling approximately 25 acres, scattered throughout. The state’s $13.5 million purchase from Sterling Forest® LLC was supported through the Environmental Protection Fund.
"This latest acquisition represents the last piece in the puzzle for protecting the full array of natural resources and wildlife habitats at Sterling Forest State Park from the threat of development," said Governor Pataki."
Sterling Forest State Park is centrally located within the New York/New Jersey Highlands, a 1.1 million-acre stretch of contiguous habitat from the Hudson River to the Delaware River. Sterling Forest, is the forested anchor of the New York/New Jersey Highlands. The tract links Abram S. Hewitt State Park in New Jersey with Harriman State Park in New York, and protects the corridor around the Appalachian Trail, which traverses the northern portion of Sterling Forest, and the full length of the Sterling Ridge Trail. The park is part of the New York State Parks system and administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
In 1998, Governor Pataki announced the acquisition of the first 15,280 acres that created Sterling Forest. New York and New Jersey, along with the federal government and private interests, worked together to raise $55 million to purchase Sterling Forest and preserve it as open space. The property protects a major source of drinking water for New Jersey and was the last large, privately-held open space in the New York City metropolitan region. Since the initial announcement, another 3,000 have been added to the park including this latest acquisition.
Sterling Forest and its habitats are vital for the survival of many resident and migratory species, including black bear and a variety of hawks and songbirds, as well as many rare invertebrates and plants. The Governor also designated a 16,833-acre portion of the park as a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) in an effort to protect the habitat of various bird species living in the area.