NEW YORK, NY— April 10, 2017 — The Open Space Institute (OSI) today commended Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and members of the state legislature for their unparalleled leadership in protecting New York’s natural resources, and for promoting expanded and improved recreational opportunities for residents throughout the state.
The final budget agreement expands Governor Cuomo’s state park revitalization initiative, improves recreational trail access, maintains a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and provides an unprecedented $2.5 billion commitment to clean water infrastructure – with a welcome emphasis on source water protection through land conservation.
“This budget is a home run for land conservation, those who value the tremendous landscapes of New York State, and the growing eco-tourism community,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “The final agreement underscores the value of protected land as a source of for clean water, a place to explore and recreate, and an important economic asset for communities and local businesses.”
The final budget agreement maintains momentum on the 10-year commitment outlined in Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 plan to revitalize state parks and make them more accessible, appealing, and welcoming for generations of park visitors.
The plan also advances the governor’s initiative to create a new Adirondack gateway at Exit 29 on the Northway in North Hudson. Developed in tandem with OSI, the project will provide access to newly acquired lands in the park and catalyze regional economic development.
Another plan, developing the Empire State Trail, is also strongly endorsed by OSI since it will attract more New Yorkers to outdoor recreation. Building on one of the nation’s strongest state rail-trail networks, New York’s Empire State Trail promises to knit together a series of recreational wonders into a network that will be a global recreational tourism destination.
OSI is grateful to Governor Cuomo for presenting a forward-thinking environmental blueprint and particularly appreciative to Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright; Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Tom O’Mara; Assembly Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee Chair Daniel O’Donnell; and Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation Committee Chair Rich Funke, for the critical roles they play in achieving this remarkable final budget.
Among one of New York’s leading land conservation organizations, OSI has conserved 143,000 acres in New York State through our 40 years of history. These conservation transactions achieve a variety of goals, including creating and expanding parks, protecting habitat, mitigating the effects of climate change, and protecting water sources.
Through its Alliance for New York State Parks program, OSI has extended its commitment to public enjoyment of parks through advocacy, private fundraising, and support of public-private endeavors that are adding to the revitalization of New York’s magnificent state park system.