News: New York State Announces Acquisition of 590 Acres in the Catskill Park including Balsam Mountain

Map showing new acquisition
On May 20, 2014 Governor Cuomo announced that New York State acquired 590 acres of land on the upper slopes of Balsam Mountain in the Catskill Park.

This parcel helps preserve critical wildlife habitats and expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the Catskill Park.  The Balsam Mountain property is located in the Town of Shandaken, Ulster County, and features old growth forests, a habitat for a distinctive bird species – especially those that favor subalpine coniferous forests – and extensive trails for hiking and wildlife viewing. The State purchased the property from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for $1.65 million using funds from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

Celebrating the acquisition at the Lost Clove Trailhead
At the same time, officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and representatives from the Nature Conservancy, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Catskill Mountainkeeper and others joined together at the Lost Clove Trailhead to celebrate the acquisition, to experience the newly protected lands and to hike to the summit of Balsam Mountain, which is now part of the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve.

This parcel was identified as a priority for acquisition during this year's Catskill Park Awareness Day at the New York State Legislature.  The day, organized by groups under the auspices of the Catskill Park Coalition, seeked to educate New York State Lawmakers about the importance of the Catskill Park and the need to safeguard, improve and promote the park in order to both secure the Catskill Park and help local communities engage and prosper by using recreation as an economic engine.

During the classification process for State lands within the Catskill Park, it is anticipated that most of the property will be added to the DEC’s Big Indian Wilderness in the Catskill Forest Preserve. This property adjoins the Big Indian parcel, a 1,200-acre parcel on the eastern slopes of Belleayre Mountain that was acquired in 2011. Together, these acquisitions have resulted in the preservation of an unfragmented forest block of more than 40,000 acres, which includes the 34,000-acre Big Indian Wilderness.


Photos from the event on May 20, 2014 announcing and celebrating the acquisition at the Lost Clove Trailhead.

Balsam Mountain and the rest of the new acquisition is shown on Map #142 of the Trail Conference's Catskill Trails Map Set.  Hiking trails in the area include the Lost Clove Trail and the Pine Hill-West Branch Trail if you'd like to get out and experience this new addition to Catskill Park!

Need More Information on Hiking and  Planning your 
Adventures in the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Catskill TrailsRead up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps for hiking and exploring the Catskill Mountain region.

AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)