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ALBANY-New York State plans to spend $2.05 million to acquire 1,693 acres in the town of Forestburgh in Sullivan County for use as open space. The acquisition will be financed by using funds from the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act.

The property, called the Leonard parcel, is located in the southern portion of the Neversink River area. The deal will increase state-owned land in the Neversink River Unique Area to 7,160 acres and add another two miles of riverfront property.

In 1980, the New York State Nature and Historical Preserve Trust Board authorized the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to acquire Neversink wilderness properties in Sullivan County for designation as a unique area, to “unify under state ownership lands of natural beauty; wilderness character; and geological, ecological and historical significance,” DEC officials say. Formal designation of the Neversink area was handed down in 1988.

The deal does not require legislative approval, according to a DEC spokesman. The Neversink River Unique Area Unit Management Plan, approved in November 1996, recommended that the state attempt to acquire the Leonard parcel.

“By acquiring this parcel of land,” says Pataki, “we will be able to protect and preserve the unique ecosystem and beautiful views along the Neversink River while creating additional recreational opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. With its close proximity to major metropolitan areas, the property will provide easy access for thousands of New Yorkers to enjoy outdoor activities.” DEC officials report the agency plans to allow “passive and low impact recreational uses.”

The Leonard parcel is one of 131 priority projects listed in New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan. Since 1995, the state has invested more than $300 million to acquire approximately 300,000 acres of open space identified in the plan.

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