Mostly located in the Town of New Windsor, with portion extending into the Town of Montgomery, Village of Maybrook and the Town of Hamptonburgh; Stewart State Forest was first set aside in 1971 as the "Stewart Bufferlands," when the State condemned 8,076 acres to the west of then Stewart Air Force Base. The land was to become the east coast's premier Super Sonic Transport (SST) airport, and the large buffer was needed for expansion and noise abatement. The State bought 802 parcels of land, removing 337 farms and houses, and almost 1,200 people.
The airport expansion and SST plans were abandoned by 1982 and commercial flights began at the newly created Stewart International Airport in 1990. The airport's long runway remains one of several emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle. Between 1974 and 1999, the DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife managed Stewart as a Cooperative Hunting Area. The "Stewart Bufferlands" were turned over to the DEC in 1999 and 2006, after parts of the property were set aside for development. View a map of the Stewart State Forest.