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Sterling Forest State Park facts for kids

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For the state park in Michigan, see Sterling State Park.
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Sterling Forest State Park
Type State park
Location 116 Old Forge Road
Tuxedo, New York
Area 21,938 acres (88.78 km2)
Created 1998 (1998)
Operated by
Visitors 266,944 (in 2014)
Open All year
Website Sterling Forest State Park

Sterling Forest State Park is a 21,938-acre (88.78 km2) state park located in the Ramapo Mountains in Orange County, New York. Established in 1998, it is among the larger additions to the New York state park system in the last 50 years.

History

Sterling Forest was originally part of a vast tract of land called Cheesecock that a group of English colonists bought from the Iroquois Indians in 1702. The land eventually came to belong to the Sterling Iron Works, which mined and shipped iron ore from a number of sites within the park. The last of the mines was closed in the 1920s.

The park was established in 1998 after New York State paid $55 million for 15,280 acres (61.8 km2) of land using a combination of public and private funds. The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute (OSI) lead the negotiations for the initial purchase leading to the creation of the park. The initiative to achieve this goal was led by the Public-Private Partnership to Save Sterling Forest, consisting of New York and New Jersey conservation organizations and chaired by Robert O. Binnewies, Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

In November 1999, The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute purchased 659 acres from New York University.

In December 2000, The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute announced an additional 1,065 acres to be added to Sterling Forest State Park. Funders and supporters for Preservation of Sterling Forest State Park include: The Wallace Fund, New York State's Environmental Protection Fund, Forest Legacy Program, the State of New Jersey, the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands, and Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC), Governor Pataki, The Clinton Administration and other federal support.

In 2005, The Trust for Public Land and the State of New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation purchased a 90-acre farm land in Warwick, NY to add to the state park.

In 2006, the park was expanded after a 575-acre (2.33 km2) tract in the center of the forest came on the market, called Sterling Forge. Although Sterling Forest LLC developers had planned to construct 107 luxury homes and an 18-hole golf course on the tract, local residents and concerned environmentalists rallied and were able to procure the tract for the state park. The final $13.5 million sale price was negotiated by The Trust for Public Land, and paid in part out of the state's Environmental Protection Fund.

In February 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the addition of 112 acres to the state park, as a result of a partnership with the Orange County Land Trust.

Park description and facilities

The park's forest habitat is important for the survival of several species, including timber rattlesnakes, black bear, fox, various raptors and songbirds, and many rare invertebrates and plants. The forest is embedded in a larger area of over 100,000 acres (400 km2) of largely uninterrupted woodland that serves both as a wildlife corridor and as a watershed for nearby urban areas. The park contains a number of lakes and reservoirs including Sterling Lake and Blue Lake. Hunting, fishing, ice fishing, hiking and snowshoeing opportunities are available.

The park lies in the New York - New Jersey Highlands, a one-million-acre (4,000 km2) stretch of natural habitat from the Hudson to the Delaware River that links the Abram S. Hewitt State Forest in New Jersey with Harriman State Park in New York. The park conserves a part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion. It also protects the Appalachian Trail corridor, which crosses the northern portion of Sterling Forest. The park is administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The Appalachian Trail in Sterling Forest is maintained by the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference.

The park includes the Frank R. Lautenberg Visitor Center, which offers exhibits about the local environment and overlooks Sterling Lake. The Sterling Mountain Fire Observation Tower and Observer's Cabin is located on Sterling Mountain.

A New York State hunting license and a Sterling Forest State Park hunting permit are required to hunt in the park, which is only permitted during deer and turkey season. Some areas are closed to hunting.

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