NEW YORK, NY (Feb. 21, 2023)— The Open Space Institute (OSI) joined the parks and environmental communities in celebrating record-breaking attendance of 79.5 million visitors at New York State parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails.
This third consecutive increase in annual visitation underscores the popularity and importance of parks as residents continue to flock to New York’s natural assets as places for recreation and refuge. The increase in park usage also demonstrates a clear need for more state funding that supports park and trail protection and enhancement work.
OSI’s land mission extends from conservation to making parks and protected land more available and welcoming to all, and the organization is asking Governor Kathy Hochul and the legislature to restore the level of funding for parks infrastructure to $250 million.
Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute (OSI), said, “These record-breaking attendance numbers exemplify the love New Yorkers have for our parks and outdoor spaces and also demonstrate a clear need for more park and trail protection and enhancement work to support continually emerging needs. We applaud the administration for their continued commitment to connecting people from all backgrounds and experiences to New York’s wonderful natural, outdoor resources.
State Park attendance has been steadily climbing, rising 41 percent since 2008. Underscoring the importance of New York’s outdoors spaces, visitors to more than 350,000 acres of parkland and 300 miles of shoreline were not just coming to hike and camp, they also ventured to parks to explore and learn, too.
Dedicated and sustained environmental funding supports the ongoing operation of parks and historic sites, providing safe and attractive facilities, accessible and affordable services, and quality visitor experiences. Especially in the wake of the pandemic and the public’s reliance on parks, trails, and other public lands, New York cannot reverse its commitment to making parks safe, welcoming, and accessible for all.
As the 2022 legislative session gets underway, OSI looks forward to working with Governor Hochul, her administration, and members of the Legislature to enact a budget that moves New York State forward as a national leader in improving and creating access to nature and the outdoors, addressing the climate crisis, and ensuring that the water and air we need are protected for generations to come.
Over the past decade, OSI has invested millions of private dollars for new trails, trailheads, and visitor centers with the hope of connecting more people to the land and demonstrating that all New Yorkers are welcome in our state parks and public lands. These types of projects, along with our decades of land protection here in New York State serve the public in countless ways. In fact, we are all especially proud that through our conservation efforts, OSI has had a hand in protecting more than ten percent of New York’s state parks.