ALBANY, NY (Dec. 12, 2016)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today congratulated Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration on completion of an important and timely update to the New York State Open Space Plan. The Plan underscores the important role of land conservation in protecting natural resources, promoting outdoor recreation, and supporting working farms, habitat protection and healthy communities.
In a critical addition, the update intensifies the call for applying science-based climate resilience criteria to help protect the state’s natural and human communities from impacts including floods, droughts and other costly environmental disruptions caused by changing climate.
“With the release of the state’s new Open Space Plan, Governor Cuomo confirms his status as a valued, national leader enacting progressive environmental policy,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of OSI. “The newly-adopted Open Space Plan sets a framework for New York State and its dedicated conservation partners to achieve high impact results, and address the greatest environmental challenges of our time.”
A critical defense in the human and natural fight against climate change, land conservation can help reduce the risk of extreme weather to communities by naturally filtering floodwater and sequestering carbon dioxide, among other benefits.
“Land conservation is a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and as we look to the future, it is gratifying to see the state addressing climate change impacts in its long-term open space preservation goals,” said Elliman.
Based on science advanced by The Nature Conservancy, OSI and its partners, the new Open Space Plan resiliency criteria emphasizes the role of nature in mitigating and adapting to climate change, including facilitating wildlife adaptation to a warmer climate. “Climate-resilient lands” are places serving as natural strongholds, whose combination of landform diversity and other unchanging physical characteristics will help ensure that human and natural communities endure as the world warms.
The news is the latest example of Governor Cuomo’s environmental leadership and commitment to preservation of New York’s natural resources. After decades of state park underinvestment resulting in a $1 billion backlog in maintenance and repairs, Governor Cuomo in 2015 launched his Parks 2020 initiative, resulting in a park renaissance that is underway in every region throughout New York.
Then, in early 2016, the governor increased the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $300 million, representing an historic advancement. Among the areas of spending increases included in the newly-expanded EPF is the land acquisition category. The Open Space Plan prioritizes this spending.
Updated regularly, the New York State Open Space Plan serves as the blueprint for the state’s land conservation efforts, outlining patterns of development, economy, culture, environment and community well-being from the Adirondacks and Catskills, to the Long Island Pine Barrens, to urban open space in New York City and upstate population centers.