For OSI, whose conservation work over the decades had added over 40,000 acres to the state’s 335,000-acre state park system, the prospect of parks closings prompted disbelief, then resolve.
Just a short time ago, the outlook for New York’s state parks and historic sites was grim. After decades of disregard, facilities and systems were broken down, outdated and tattered. With a budget crisis looming, the state announced plans to close dozens of its beleaguered parks.
Fast forward to today. A full-blown renaissance is underway for the state’s treasured public landscapes. Finally, parks are on the upswing as public and private supporters invest hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrades, forging new partnerships and inspiring New Yorkers to head outdoors in droves.
With the support of OSI’s Alliance for New York State Parks program, New York is continuing the biggest and most sustained financial commitment to its parks since the system was created in 1885. Already an established builder of state parks, OSI has also become a partner, advocate and cajoler as Governor Andrew Cuomo takes on the enormous task of rebuilding the state’s expansive and diverse system of parks and historic sites.
Protecting an investment
The problem had been building for decades.Despite supporters’ calls for additional repairs and updates, the state parks system had somehow become a go-to when lawmakers made cuts in the face of fiscal difficulties. Years of this financial whittling had taken a noticeable toll on parks, whose crumbling masonry, rundown cabins and restrooms, and cordoned-off trails were not lost on the system’s millions of annual visitors.