EnvironmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

40 Acres in Cortlandt Preserved by Westchester Land Trust

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Forty acres in Cortlandt donated by a property owner is being preserved through an arrangement with Westchester Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy.

The newly protected land, which is adjacent to the Land Trust’s McGregor Pond Preserve and increases the size of the preserve to nearly 112 acres, is state-protected wetlands and will not have public access. There are two streams on the property that are tributaries to the Peekskill Hollow Brook, which provides drinking water to the City of Peekskill.

“Permanently protecting this land is a significant conservation accomplishment for our community and ensures this critically important habitat will be there to sustain people and wildlife for generations to come,” said Kara Whelan, president of Westchester Land Trust. “We’re grateful to the previous landowner for his vision for the land and to The Nature Conservancy for their financial support getting this deal done.”

Steve Warren, president of Albert D. Phelps, Inc. and Yorkcon Properties, Inc., which owns the Kohls shopping center immediately to the north, contacted the Land Trust about conserving the land after being referred by a local developer. He had held the interior land for decades since the development of the Cortlandt Town Center.

Previously, the land was owned by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

“Knowing that this special piece of land will remain undeveloped as beautiful forest and wetlands forever is a great feeling,” Warren said. “We can all make a difference to protect the nature around us and we are pleased to know it will be in good hands with Westchester Land Trust.”

To support the acquisition, the Nature Conservancy awarded Westchester Land Trust a Climate Resilience Grant, which supports partners working towards a future where people and nature can thrive.

“This property is incredibly valuable for both wildlife and human needs in the face of a changing climate,” said Stevie Adams, Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist at The Nature Conservancy in New York. “The Nature Conservancy is pleased to support this project so that these lands can continue to store flood waters, remove pollutants from drinking water, and provide a diversity of habitat types for a wide range of plants and animals.”

The Nature Conservancy provided partial financial support for the transaction costs associated with the land donation, as well as the stewardship endowment that will fund WLT’s management efforts at the preserve.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program, the enlarged McGregor Pond Preserve is in the top 1% for wetlands protected and top 5% for riparian habitat protected in the estuary. It is also part of a core forest, providing high quality habitat and significant biodiversity of plants and wildlife.

More than 50 species of birds are believed to use the property, including the American woodcock and the wood duck. This new acquisition was also listed as one of the highest priority parcels for conservation in the most recent Cortlandt Open Space Plan.




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