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For Release: Thursday, April 8, 2021

DEC and Winnakee Land Trust Announce Acquisition of Critical Lands to Protect Water Quality in Dutchess county

333-Acre Acquisition Will Help Protect Public Water Supply for Bard College

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Winnakee Land Trust (WLT) today announced the acquisition of two parcels totaling 333 acres in the town of Red Hook adjacent to the Saw Kill, as part of New York State's Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program. This partnership will help protect the public drinking water supply at Bard College, which serves 1,400 residents. DEC awarded WLT more than $1.2 million in a WQIP grant for this project.

"To protect the environment and safeguard New York's water quality today and for future generations, DEC is working with partners like the Winnakee Land Trust through the State's Water Quality Improvement Project Program," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Today's announcement and the trust's acquisition of these critical lands will protect nearby drinking water supplies and critical habitat while creating new opportunities for recreation."

"Winnakee is most grateful to the DEC and the many partner advocates of the CWIA/EPF Water Quality Improvement Project Grant for making this acquisition possible," said Winnakee Land Trust Executive Director Bob Davis. "This extraordinary property offers unique benefits for our local community. In addition to protecting and preserving a vulnerable watershed and productive farmlands, the opportunity for an innovative trail to connect Bard College and the Town of Red Hook will bring rewarding recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike. The significant acreage of forested land also furthers a key Winnakee conservation goal to increase protection of local forests and the riparian forest buffers within them."

"Bard College is grateful to the DEC and Winnakee Land Trust for its foresight to protect this important watershed," said Bard College President Leon Botstein. "We look forward to exploring future educational opportunities with Winnakee around sustainable management practices for keeping this watershed safe for generations to come."

Through the conservation of 333 acres of land bordering approximately 9,000 feet of the Saw Kill, the project will ensure better water quality and help minimize impacts on the source water. Without this protection, these lands could have faced harmful effects from further buildout that could negatively impact the public water supply, such as increases in stormwater runoff, septic system contamination, and other nonpoint sources of contamination. The acquisitions are:

  • Migliorelli and Leone property consists of two parcels totaling nearly 89 acres and more than a half a mile of frontage on the Saw Kill. Approximately 50 acres of this property are within federally designated wetland areas; and
  • Rural Joy property, which consists of two parcels totaling 245 acres including 4,519 feet of frontage on the Saw Kill and approximately 52 acres of federally designated wetland areas.

Another important benefit includes a proposed trail through the property that will connect Bard College and the village of Tivoli and the village of Red Hook to provide passive recreation while still meeting the program's source water protection goals. The path will be suitable for recreational uses such as walking and other non-motorized uses.

Between the two properties, there are 258 acres of forest, 12 acres of meadows, and more than 33 acres of wetlands. These types of land cover contribute to the natural habitats critical to source water protection, helping to slow down water after storm events, filtering and absorbing pollutants, and reducing treatment costs.

Approximately 20 acres were extensively logged prior to the acquisition. This project will limit future logging and provide for the development of a management plan to remove invasives, restore vegetation, and mitigate potential impacts to the adjacent waterway, protecting the public drinking water supply of 1,400 residents at Bard College.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo continues to increase investments for clean water infrastructure projects, including the State's unprecedented $4 billion commitment to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to clean water. As part of the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the WQIP supports projects to improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms (HABs), and protect drinking water across the state. DEC has announced more than $37 million for 37 land acquisition projects to date. In addition to land acquisition projects for source water protection, WQIP grants are awarded for municipal wastewater treatment, nonagricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, salt storage, and aquatic habitat restoration.

wooded area with a body of waterin the middle surrounded by trees

a small body of water surrouded by trees

a tree trunk in front of a body of water

wooded area with a still body of water in the center
Photos courtesy of Winnakee Land Trust

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