Stop # 14: OSR & the DEC

Simba, All this was once yours…

Onteora was originally nearly twice the size it is today, but in many ways—fortunately--you cannot tell because the 1,000 acres of OSR sold to New York State were added to the Catskill Wildlife Preserve. However, the sale did make the original OA Brotherhood ceremonial ring off limits. State regulations also prohibited the marking of any unauthorized trails, so existing OSR trails could not continue through state property and were realigned over the past decade.

The origin of the OSR property dates back to 1955, when Nassau County Council (now TRC) purchased 2,400 acres from the Trout & Skeet Club. Summer camp opened the following summer.

But in the ‘70s, Council was experiencing financial problems.

In an April 6, 1975, story in The New York Times about mounting objections to the sale of Camp Wauwepex (now Schiff Scout Reservation), the then Council President said the Council was $1 million in debt, which was costing the Council more than $100,000 a year in interest. He attributed the debt to a drop in voluntary contributions—the Council's primary means of support—without a corresponding cut in operating expenses.

The NYT story went on to state that “Contributions reflect the declining economy and membership. There are some 22,000 youths in Nassau Council, down from a high of 35,000 about 10 years ago. The large drop in membership is attributed to a declining adolescent population and a resistance, spawned by the peace movement of the late 1960's, to military-like organizations with uniforms, regulations and chains of command.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to sell 1,000 acres at OSR to New York State, with a portion of Wauwepex also later sold off.

You may recall several trail stops ago, you learned about the logging industry in this area. For a number of years, Council would also use logging to produce additional revenue to sustain operations, which in part, is why you see so few Cherry trees, for they were the most valuable of the hardwoods growing on the Reservation.

DIRECTIONS: At this point, the Red and White Trails diverge again, with the Red Trail turning south and the White Trail continuing west. Stay on the White Trail.