ALBANY, NY (April 2, 2020)—The Open Space Institute, today commended Governor Andrew Cuomo and the members and leadership of the New York State Legislature for maintaining their commitment to protecting the state’s environment and enhancing the public’s access to nature. The budget approved by the Assembly and Senate this week includes $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and language supporting a $3 billion Nature Bond Act referendum this coming November.
“Even in these challenging times, members of the Assembly and Senate recognize that efforts to protect our state’s vital natural resources and expand the public’s access to nature through the EPF must be maintained,” said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO. “We are also encouraged by the legislature’s inclusion of budgetary language that paves the way for a $3 billion nature bond act to be placed before the voters this fall.”
Elliman pointed to the public’s increased interest in outdoor recreation in the wake of the current health crisis confronting New Yorkers. “In recent weeks, legions of New Yorkers expressed their deep appreciation for parks and open space, seeking comfort in nature,” he noted. “As we move on to November, we look forward to the voters of New York State having the opportunity to enact a once-in-a-generation initiative to protect water, fight climate change, mitigate the effects of extreme weather, and save wildlife habitat through smart and effective land conservation.”
Elliman noted that many of the types of environmental infrastructure projects outlined for the bond act in the budget agreement will add a range of jobs. “Keeping New Yorkers healthy goes hand-in-hand with keeping New Yorkers working,” he said.
If approved by voters in November, the funding will support restoration of wildlife habitat and natural areas that act as flooding defenses and upgrade outdated infrastructure. Other projects will restore streams, wetlands, and shorelines to reduce the risk of flooding and improve water quality; upgrade drinking water infrastructure; help farmers reduce their pollution; and create new outdoor recreational activities that will drive economic activity across the state.