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Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg

GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI is told about the environmental value of both the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area and the Shawangunk Ridge (both in the background) during his announcement in Wurtsboro Friday of the state’s acquisition of nearly 1,000 acres on the mountaintop.

Governor Announces
Purchase of Ridgetop

By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO — June 29, 2004 – Governor George Pataki stopped in Wurtsboro on Friday to announce the state’s purchase of 942 acres on five parcels of land along the Shawangunk Ridge and Trail in the Town of Mamakating.
Pataki announced that the state has protected more than 780,000 acres of open space since he stepped into office. He set a goal of protecting one million acres by 2012.
“The Shawangunk Ridge is a unique natural and recreational asset that offers New Yorkers and all outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Catskills,” said the governor. “People want to be where the quality of life is great.”
Three threatened species occupy the newly protected area, said Pataki. He did not describe which species, but they include a bird, flower and fish.
(Pataki also took the time to announce the 25,000 jobs created throughout the state during May, more than any other state.)
The five areas consist of the 370-acre Konstantinoff parcel, the 182-acre Howell parcel, the 141-acre Stutzman parcel, the 162-acre Wurtsboro Steam Laundry parcel and the 77-acre Lazar parcel. The purchase was made through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund at a cost of approximately one million dollars, said the governor.
Town of Mamakating Supervisor Charles Penna was pleased with the deal. The town would be made whole on the taxes owed on the land, he said.
Neil Zimmerman of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference took partial credit for the purchase.
“The hikers got together to push it,” he said.
The Open Space Institute and Trust for Public Land also assisted in the purchase.
After the announcement, Pataki took questions from reporters on the proposed casinos and the late budget.
As to whether he believed a $15 million impact fee was sufficient for each casino to pay the county, Pataki responded, “We will put the details together.”
He described the deal with the Cayugas for a casino at the site of Monticello Raceway to be a “conceptual agreement.”
And he blamed the lack of a state budget on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for refusing to “negotiate until he gets more for New York City schools.”

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