In 1987 a small group of Woodstock area residents formed the Woodstock Land Conservancy in response to the inadequacy of local zoning laws to protect land under pressure from development. At the time, there was a building boom in Woodstock and several housing developments were proposed for a few large lots in town. WLC sought to be an alternative for landowners not wanting to develop their properties. The founders also sought to create a means for the community to join together to protect cherished lands. In the spring of 1989 WLC protected its first property, Aileen Cramer’s field on Rick’s Road in Woodstock. The five acre parcel has excellent views of Mount Guardian.
Later that year, with $2,000 in the bank, an outpouring of support from more than 500 donors across the community enabled WLC to raise $160,000 in just eight weeks to purchase the historic and scenic 22-acre Zena Cornfield. The property has dramatic views of Overlook Mountain and had been farmed by Native Americans and early European settlers over the centuries. The Zena Cornfield remains WLC’s signature acquisition.
In December 2003, in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), WLC launched a campaign to save the uppermost reaches of Overlook Mountain. Overlook is the birthplace of the Hudson River School of painting and a vital habitat and migration corridor for wildlife. Over the years 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.”
That legacy continues today. WLC continues to partner with other land conservation organizations, New York State, and New York City to protect key private lands. We own ten parcels and have conservation easements on ten others. Over the past 25 years we have 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.