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OSI and partners celebrate unprecedented funding for New York's environment

ALBANY, NY—April 1, 2016— The Open Space Institute joined its coalition partners of the Friends of New York’s Environment in commending Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for providing historic funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in this year’s budget. This unprecedented investment of $300 million positions New York as a national leader by ensuring the conservation of critical natural resources for future generations while creating jobs and making communities more resilient to climate change and storm impacts.

Environmental, business, public health, agriculture, recreation and urban stakeholder groups from across the state that make up the Friends of New York’s Environment hailed the EPF appropriation as an incredible victory for conservation, business, agriculture, recreation, and municipal communities. The investment will enhance the state’s ability to leverage federal, local, and private dollars, and allow the state to better meet current demand and implement critical programs.

“It’s a great day for New York’s environment—our community’s shared dream of a $300 million EPF has been realized thanks to Governor Cuomo and the legislature.  We look forward to working with the state on implementation and to maintain New York’s position at the forefront of smart, effective and innovative environmental policies and standards” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute.

EPF strategies and programs are incredibly diverse, supporting work such as farmland and forest conservation, municipal parks, waterfront rehabilitation and construction, zoos and botanical gardens, ocean, Great Lakes and estuary restoration and protection, habitat conservation, municipal recycling and other solid waste management programs, environmental justice grant programs, and water quality improvement initiatives and programs that enhance the ability of the public to access lands and waters for fishing, boating, and other recreational activities.

A 2012 study by the Trust for Public Land showed that for every $1 invested in land and water conservation through the EPF, New York State receives $7 in economic benefit. Industries supported by EPF programs include solid waste management, forestry, agriculture, tourism, and fishing.  These industries contribute billions to New York’s economy every year and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.  In December 2015, a public opinion survey showed that New York voters from all political parties and in all regions of the state overwhelmingly support increased public investment in the state’s environment, including more than 7 in 10 voters who said they support fully funding the EPF at $300 million a year.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York, said “The Nature Conservancy thanks Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Englebright and Senate Environmental Conservation Chair O’Mara for their leadership in delivering a historic level of funding for the Environmental Protection Fund. This year’s budget will allow New York to address some of the most serious public health and environmental issues facing our state and preserve valuable natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers.”

 “We want to thank the Executive and the Legislature for their unprecedented commitment to the environment. The inclusion of $300 million into the New York Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in the enacted budget will benefit all New Yorkers and make our state a better place to live and work,” said Darren Suarez, Director of Government Affairs for The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “This funding increase means the EPF will have the additional resources necessary to address a number of critical issues, including: climate adaptation and mitigation projects, flood mitigation, natural resiliency measures, and clean vehicle projects.”

“EPF funding is critical to support necessary water quality and conservation programs that serve to protect our natural resources in New York. New York Farm Bureau has long advocated for increased EPF funding, and we are pleased to see the support for the programs reflected in the final budget,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President.

"We now have an environmental budget from Governor Cuomo and state Legislators that will deliver one of the strongest environmental grants program in the state's history. The Environmental Protection Fund touches the lives of New Yorkers in innumerable ways—from safeguarding clean drinking water and securing fresh local food from productive farmland, to creating parks, open spaces and vibrant waterfronts that contribute meaningfully to our quality of life and tourism economies. The Hudson River Valley has been at the epicenter of support for the EPF and we are proud to partner with our state's lawmakers to help implement many projects in local communities" said Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy for Scenic Hudson.

For more information about the Environmental Protection Fund, visit www.keepprotectingny.com.

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