WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. Four northern Westchester County open space and preserve organizations have been named the recipients of state grants totaling close to half a million dollars.
State Assembly member Robert J. Castelli (R, C Goldens Bridge) announced this week that the New York State Conservation Partnership Program grants were awarded to the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in Bedford, the North Salem Open Land Foundation, the Teatown Lake Preservation in Ossining and the Westchester Land Trust. The grants were funded through the states Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and total $1.4 million statewide. The total will be matched by $1.2 million in private and local funding.
Maintaining open space and preserving our natural resources is critically important, Castelli said. These grants will help to ensure local conservation groups have the resources and know-how to preserve valuable tracts of land here in the Hudson Valley.
Castelli said that the purpose of the grants is to ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, which will result environmental and economic benefits for communities throughout the state. Local grants and projects include:
- $75,000 for the Mianus River Gorge Preserve to enable the 59-year-old land trust, which has 175 acres under conservation easement and 769 acres in fee ownership, to help create a full-time staff position that combines a scientific background with grant development and fundraising skills. The Mianus River Gorge Preserve was the first project of the Nature Conservancy in the 1950s.
- $22,000 grant to Westchester Land Trust (WLT) in Bedford Hills to enable it to hire a consultant to build a communications platform that will allow the land trust to make improvements in the areas of fundraising, outreach, external communications and programming. The WLT will also received a second grant of $9,538 to partner with the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, a private religious organization, and complete a conservation easement on their historic campus, which borders the Croton-to-Highlands Region Biodiversity Area.
- $37,500 grant to the Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, enabling it to collaborate with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and three local land trusts to design a model framework for long-term data collection related to regional trends such as climate change, deer impact, invasive plants and water-quality degradation.
- $20,000 in grants for the North Salem Open Land Foundation in North Salem for a Preserves Survey Project enabling it to mark boundaries on 23 fee-owned nature-preserve properties on approximately 750 acres and bring the land trust into compliance with Land Trust Standards and Practices.
These grants will help to fund several worthy projects related to the maintenance and preservation of Westchester Countys natural resources, said Castelli. The public-private partnerships used to fund the grants ought to be used as a model by other states looking to preserve land and promote trusteeship of our shared natural space.