DEC, Westchester Land Trust Acquire 68 Acres in Westchester County

DEC, Westchester Land Trust Acquire 68 Acres in Westchester County
The DEC and Westchester Land Trust acquired 63 acres in North Castle and five acres in the Town of Yorktown.

NORTH CASTLE—The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Westchester Land Trust announced on Feb. 3 the acquisition of a total of approximately 68 acres of land in Westchester County to protect the drinking water sources of the Town of North Castle and New York City’s New Croton Reservoir system.

The funding for these projects came from DEC’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Program which awarded WLT more than $1.5 million to acquire lands for source water protection. The projects will protect the two drinking water sources in perpetuity.

“New York’s Water Quality Improvement Project grants support one of the State’s top priorities—protecting drinking water sources,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “DEC thanks Westchester Land Trust for their valuable partnership on projects that help prevent runoff and other water quality concerns by acquiring land within this watershed and protecting the drinking water for millions of New Yorkers at its source and for the long term.”

“Protecting these areas was a top priority for Westchester Land Trust and our partners because we all need clean drinking water,” said Kara Hartigan Whelan, president of WLT. “We’re grateful to the many partners, including the DEC, town of North Castle, and Teatown Lake Reservation, that worked collaboratively to ensure these lands will forever remain free from development and serve as important buffers to our water systems.”

Two parcels were acquired by WLT. The Shadow Lake WQIP parcel is just under five acres of forested land in the Town of Yorktown. Adjacent to Shadow Lake, the parcel was the last unprotected and developable property around the lake. Preservation of the parcel will buffer one of New York City’s public drinking water sources, New Croton Reservoir, from impacts of additional development in the future. Acquisition of this property was made possible not only by the WQIP award, but the partnership WLT has with Teatown Lake Reservation. The property was transferred to Teatown, which will manage the property with the principal purpose of drinking water source protection.

“We are extremely pleased that the transaction with the property owner has been successfully concluded, thereby continuing our 60-year tradition of protecting environmentally sensitive lands for today and future generations. This has been and continues to be a core part of our mission,” said Kevin Carter, Teatown’s Executive Director.

The second project consists of two parcels of land totaling 63 acres in the Town of North Castle. The parcels include a pond, wetlands, and steep slopes overlaying a large sand and gravel aquifer which supplies public drinking water wells. The properties were identified as priorities for preservation by the North Castle Open Space Study Committee. The land will be open to the public for passive recreational hiking and nature study once a trail is established. WLT partnered with the Town of North Castle to complete the acquisition, with the town now owning and managing the property as a nature preserve while protecting the underlying groundwater source for generations to come. WLT holds a perpetual conservation easement over the property.

“Acquiring and protecting this open space has been a long-standing goal of the Town and is now a reality,” said Michael Schiliro, supervisor of North Castle. “Our partnership with Westchester Land Trust to secure the needed resources to acquire this land demonstrates the true value of public-private partnerships.”

The 68 acres acquired will remain undeveloped, allowing for their natural features to protect the drinking water supplies from potential contaminants and stormwater runoff, DEC officials stated.

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