ALBANY, NY (March 9, 2017) — Grassroots travel to Albany to support state parks. OSI and its park advocacy partner Parks & Trails New York joined forces in hosting New Yorkers from across the state for its 11th annual Park Advocacy Day at the state Capitol this week. Representatives from more than 30 park Friends groups, environmental organizations, local parks and educational organizations joined forces to urge policymakers to protect and preserve New York’s state parks.
Park advocates urged state lawmakers to support the Governor’s $120 million capital investment in the state park system in this year’s state budget and continue to support the Park and Trail Partnership Program, a grants program for Friends groups that support and strengthen the state’s parks, trails and historic sites.
Park supporters also called upon legislators to maintain the $300 million for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The EPF supports and protects parks by providing critical funding for stewardship, public access, open space land protection, and municipal parks.
Thanks to the nearly $469 million investment made by the state over the last five years, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has been incrementally addressing an estimated backlog of $1 billion in infrastructure needs and critical safety repairs. This ongoing commitment has breathed new life into New York’s aging park system.
“We are extraordinarily grateful to Governor Cuomo and the legislature for turning the fortunes of New York’s state park system and the spectacular natural and cultural treasures it contains,” said Erik Kulleseid, executive director of the Open Space Institute’s Alliance for New York State Parks program. “This significant and sustained infusion of resources is helping our parks assume their rightful place as sources of pride, community vitality and economic strength.”
Included in the Governor’s budget proposal for the EPF is $500,000 for the Park and Trail Partnership Program, a capacity-building grants program designed to increase the effectiveness, productivity, and volunteer and fundraising efforts of organizations that promote and support the state’s parks, trails and historic sites.
The state's NY Parks 2020 initiative is investing $900 million in private and public funding from 2011 to 2020. Funding for New York’s park system also creates strong local jobs and helps to grow the state’s economy while restoring and reinvigorating treasured state parks and historic sites.
Visitation to New York State Parks grew by 6 percent last year and has soared 21 percent over the last six years. With nearly 70 million visitors in 2016, a 3.9 million increase from 2015, New York’s state parks and historic sites are anchors of the state’s regional tourism efforts, particularly in upstate communities.