WHO WE ARE: HISTORY

HISTORY

In 1987 a small group of local residents formed the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) to protect our scenic landscapes from excessive development. WLC sought to give useful alternatives to landowners, drawing upon the structure offered by a not-for-profit land trust. In Spring 1989 WLC protected its first property with an easement on Aileen Cramer’s five-acre field on Ricks Road in Woodstock with its beautiful views of Mount Guardian.

Later that year more than 500 community donors helped WLC raise $160,000 in just eight weeks to purchase the historic and much loved 22-acre Zena Cornfield. The property, with dramatic views of Overlook Mountain, had been farmed by Native Americans and early European settlers over the centuries. Zena Cornfield remains WLC’s signature acquisition,
and is evoked in our logo.

In December 2003, in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), WLC launched a campaign to save the uppermost reaches of Overlook Mountain, the birthplace of the Hudson River School of painting and a vital habitat and migration corridor for wildlife. Working together with NYS DEC, WLC and OSI have added almost 600 acres to New York State’s Overlook Wild Forest, keeping the land on the tax rolls and “forever wild.”

This important partnership legacy continues to this day. Working with other land conservation organizations, New York State and New York City we protect key private lands. We own nineteen parcels and hold conservation easements on ten others. Our lands include 108 acres on Mt. Guardian, as well as four preserves that are open to the public. In recent years, WLC has been an important collaborator with Ulster County in the opening of the 11.5-mile Ashokan Rail Trail (ART), along the northern shore of the Ashokan Reservoir. Its opening in October 2019 was widely celebrated and the ART is spectacularly popular to the local community and tourists alike.

As recognition of the need to protect our water supply grows, WLC has deepened its focus on water resources, engaging in local initiatives, including the protection of the Sawkill Creek from its headwaters at Echo Lake through Woodstock, Town of Kingston and briefly in Ulster, before joining the Lower Esopus River.

Since 1988 WLC has protected more than 1,000 acres in total. We currently have several important properties in our acquisition pipeline, and are in conversation with numerous landowners seeking to learn more about protecting their land. In August 2017 Woodstock Land Conservancy was designated as "Accredited" by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission. We proudly join more than 400 of the most distinguished land trusts nationwide in this designation.