Albany, NY —April 2, 2015—The Open Space Institute today commended Governor Andrew Cuomo and members of the state legislature for continuing an historic commitment to the revitalization of New York’s magnificent state parks. This year’s $110 million parks capital budget builds on $270 million allocated over the past three years and strengthens the revitalization underway throughout New York’s state parks.
“We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Heastie for upholding their commitment to New York’s most spectacular natural treasures. Thanks to them, parks committee chairs Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, great things are happening at state parks throughout New York,” said Erik Kulleseid, Senior Vice President at OSI and Executive Director of its Alliance for New York State Parks program. “From flagship parks like Jones Beach, Letchworth and Niagara Falls to regional parks such as Watkins Glen, Thacher and Green Lakes—all mainstays and economic drivers in their respective communities—state parks are undergoing a transformation unlike anything this state has ever seen.”
In addition to the parks capital investment, Kulleseid also singled out for praise a $500,000 capacity-building grants initiative for state park and historic site friends groups. “This grant program promises to give a major boost to the nonprofit groups across the state that work to bring private funding and volunteer labor into our unparalleled state parks and historic sites,” he said. “The program, to be managed by Parks & Trails New York, is modeled on the Land Trust Conservation Partnership administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance.”
The final budget’s $15 million increase in New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $177 million was additional welcome news and Kulleseid credited the governor, Senator Thomas O’Mara and Assemblyman Steven Englebright for their leadership in securing the expansion.
“We are grateful for an expansion of the EPF and offer thanks to the governor and the many legislators who supported efforts to rebuild the fund to prior year levels, said Kulleseid, who pointed to increased overall funding open space and farmland conservation included in the final budget.
“This commitment underscores the value that smart and effective land conservation can and does play a role in building stronger communities. We are gratified that after years of stagnation, New York State has turned the corner on open space funding,” said Kulleseid. “We are pleased that with this proposal, the state is returning its focus to the economic, environmental and recreational benefits that result from smart land conservation.”