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For Release: Friday, December 6, 2013

State Land Acquisition Expands Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area

Acquisition to Protect Land in the New York Highlands Made with Federal Grant Funding and a Private Donation

The Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) has expanded by one-third with New York State's acquisition of a 355-acre property in Putnam County that is prized for wildlife habitat and water quality protection, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The property, known as South Hollow, is located within the Great Swamp watershed and was acquired by the state with a combination of federal grant money, funding from New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and a private donation.

"The addition of South Hollow to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area will preserve forested and watershed land and expand opportunities for recreation and sportsmen activities," Commissioner Martens said. "This acquisition is an example of how New Yorkers can benefit when state, federal, not-for-profit and private entities work together to achieve a common goal. The preservation of South Hollow will be a valuable addition to a network of protected lands within the Highlands and Great Swamp areas, further protecting one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the state that is home to many plant and animal species."

Under Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, the state is improving recreational activities for New Yorkers and out-of-state visitors, including sportsmen and sportswomen, and boosting tourism, which benefits regional economies. The initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at sites across the state, and increasing regional hunting opportunities.

DEC had sought to add the South Hollow property to its 728-acre Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area to further protect the abundant natural and cultural resources in the Highlands. The Cranberry Mountain WMA now totals 1,090 acres. Since 2006, DEC and the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, have worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the family of the late Gerald Blumberg, a long-time resident of the Hudson River Valley, to conserve the property, as well as the former North Hollow property, which DEC acquired in 2011.

South Hollow features steep upland forests and a significant portion of Haviland Hollow Brook, a pristine trout stream. The brook watershed connects with the Great Swamp, Croton River and reservoirs in the New York Highlands that provide drinking water to New York City. The area is used for recreational activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, and hunting, fishing, and trapping.

A $330,900 federal Highlands Conservation Act grant was used toward the purchase of the property. The federal program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is designed to assist New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with conserving land and natural resources in the Highlands region.

The Highlands Conservation Act grant required a non-federal, dollar-for-dollar match, which was met through the use of EPF funds. In addition, the Blumberg family generously donated more than half the value of the property to allow for the state's acquisition with limited funding.

Marc Matsil, The Trust for Public Land's New York State director said, "Completing the conservation of the South Hollow property is a vital addition to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The Trust for Public Land is grateful to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for its dedication to protecting land in the Highlands and to the New York congressional delegation for their commitment to the Highlands Conservation Act, which made this project possible. This diverse cover type provides superb recreation opportunities and great economic value by enhancing regional ecotourism and builds on the vital work of the State and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to safeguard drinking water for millions of New Yorkers."

Carter Strickland, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner said, "The City congratulates The Trust for Public Land and the State of New York on protecting another parcel of important habitat. These 355 acres are situated within the Croton watershed, which provides on average 10 percent of the drinking water for 9 million New Yorkers. Although the Croton system is soon to be filtered, a multi-barrier approach to public health protection is important and the City certainly supports and applauds land conservation efforts such as these."

John Organ, Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration in the Northeast Region said, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to partner with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in protecting the South Hollow Property by awarding a Highlands Conservation Act grant to the Agency. The Highlands Conservation Act funding used to protect this property, as well as that used to protect the previously purchased North Hollow property, has been successfully leveraged to make a significant addition to the Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The acquisitions protect valuable natural resources in the Highlands Region and illustrate the importance of the Highlands Conservation Act for accomplishing significant priority conservation outcomes."

Lawrence S. Blumberg, a New York City attorney and seller of the land said, "My father acquired this land over 50 years ago. During this time, he turned down many offers to develop or sell the property because he was waiting for something special. Several years ago, before his death in 2009 at age 97, he was so happy and gratified to know that we were working with The Trust for Public Land. I know that he would be very proud that his land has been preserved forever."

Jim Utter, Chairman, Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) said, "FrOGS is thrilled this area is protected and thanks Larry and Robin Lynn, DEC, TPL, and the Highlands Coalition for making it happen. This parcel is critical in maintaining the exceptional water quality and ecology of Haviland Hollow Brook, a major tributary of the Great Swamp, and the acquisition by DEC ensures it remains pristine."

Raymond Merlotto, Putnam County sportsman and DEC Region 3 representative to the Fish & Wildlife Management Board said, "The Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area is an important destination for sportsmen and women from throughout the Lower Hudson. The addition of the South Hollow property to Cranberry Mountain will provide not just expanded opportunities for the region's hunters and anglers, but the acquisition will also provide further protection for the Croton Watershed, the Great Swamp and other important resources in the area that provide habitat vital to the fish and wildlife that thrive there."

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