Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman
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Personal Stories Bring to Life Benefits of Land Conservation: Jobs, Health & Resilience Amid Climate Change


ALBANY— January 12, 2015 — Community-based conservation groups championing the benefits of open space, farmland conservation and parks today released a compelling publication detailing the broad benefits that conserved land provides in New York State. Land Stories: Creating Jobs, Building Healthier, More Resilient Communities profiles 13 conservation initiatives across the state and focuses on how state investments in these projects positively impact the economy, quality of life and public safety in the face of climate change.

Land Stories Publication 2015The report highlights the astonishing diversity of New York’s natural resources and gives voice to countless residents who benefit from conserved land—whether from clean drinking water, fresh and healthy food from upstate farms, or access to outdoor recreation.

In one profile, New York City resident Charlotte Lily Gaspard describes how community gardens transform city neighborhoods: “In such a crowded and busy place, it is even more essential to have green spaces to stimulate a sense of local community and a connection to nature and each other. The gardens provide a place to slow down, to feel safe and nurtured, to meet and connect with neighbors, and remember the joys of doing our part to make the community thrive and grow. In these gardens, urban youth can learn about the joys of gardening, and understand that food not only comes from a factory or a supermarket, but also grows from the earth.”

State Open Space Plan and EPF critical tools

All of the projects described in the report were enabled through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Open Space Conservation Plan and Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which has received praise from the environmental community for its vision and recognition of the importance of creating resilient communities in the face of climate change and securing farms that provide fresh, local food to the communities. As the report emphasizes, protection of these irreplaceable treasures resulted from crucial partnerships between state and local governments, property owners and land trusts. Projects profiled in Land Stories range from Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Capital District, the Adirondack Park, North Country, the Alleghenies and Western New York.

The publication is the second of its kind released by the groups. The original Land Stories: What We Give is Returned in Abundance was published in 2010. 

Organizations associated with publication of the report provided the following comments:

“It’s more important than ever that the state makes a serious commitment to preserving open space and farmland. As agencies finalize the Open Space Conservation Plan, land trusts are striving to fulfill their role in securing the supply of fresh, local food for New York City and Hudson Valley residents. With adequate state funding, this private-public partnership also can help valley communities prepare for flooding and sea level rise by creating resilient, sustainable shorelines. Land Stories offers the Legislature a view to how diverse people statewide are benefiting from conserved lands so legislators can make informed decisions during the budget process and allow these benefits to continue,” said Steve Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Scenic Hudson and Executive Director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust.

Land Stories is a splendid example of the role of land conservation in supporting local economies, providing vital jobs that support outdoor recreation, fishing, hiking and biking for millions of New Yorkers. As the Trust for Public Land's Return on Investment Study has shown, for every $1 invested through the Environmental Protection Fund in land and water protection, $7 in economic benefits through natural goods and services is returned to the state of New York. The enormity of the damage caused by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy—and the likelihood of more extreme weather in the future—has underscored the importance of the EPF and land protection in critical areas,” said Marc Matsil, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land.

“Land conservation projects around the state, including those highlighted in Land Stories, demonstrate the effectiveness and compelling public benefit of New York’s investment in open space, from farmland and community gardens to parks, trails and municipal watersheds. A robust Environmental Protection Fund will further leverage a network of highly capable land trusts and partners who are dedicated to assisting families and local communities across the state. This is the time for New York to step up and make more stories like these possible,” said Ethan Winter, New York Conservation Manager for the Land Trust Alliance.

“Funding for the permanent conservation of farmland provided through the Environmental Protection Fund enables farmers from Long Island to Buffalo to make transformative investments in their farm businesses and facilitate the transfer of family farms from one generation to the next. Farmers are increasingly looking to funding in exchange for development rights as a means of setting the stage for the future--growing  and diversifying their family businesses while permanently protecting their land for future generations of New York farmers,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust

“The Land Stories report is a wonderful reminder of the meaningful impacts the EPF and effective land conservation have on the lives of New Yorkers in every walk of life. From family farmers and community gardeners to families who visit our parks and communities that benefit from the clean water maintained through effective conservation, all New Yorkers benefit from protecting our land. We urge an EPF funding commitment that implements Governor Cuomo’s Open Space Plan,” said Christopher J. (Kim) Elliman, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Open Space Institute

“Land conservation ensures that millions of New Yorkers have clean and plentiful drinking water, reduces risk to communities from extreme weather, and provides healthy, local food. Conserving open space has proven economic benefits and is a wise use of public funds. We are hopeful that in the next state budget, investments in land conservation will be increased so that these benefits can be realized throughout the State,” said Jessica Ottney Mahar, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in New York

Land Stories clearly demonstrate the positive impact the Environmental Protection Fund is having around the state. These investments are vital to our collective effort to provide clean water, strengthen our agricultural sector, and create new opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism. All New Yorkers benefit from these programs,” said Andy Zepp, Executive Director for the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

Download a PDF of  Land Stories: Creating Jobs, Building Healthier, More Resilient Communities here.







Eileen Larrabee (OSI)

Andy Bicking (Scenic Hudson)

Jessica Ottney (TNC)

Ethan Winter (LTA)

Laura Ten Eyck (AFT)

Marc Matsil (TPL)

Andrew Zepp (Finger Lakes Land Trust)







For Immediate Release:                                                                                                      Contact: Eileen Larrabee (OSI) 518.427.1564

October 20, 2014                                                                                                                                                Andy Bicking (Scenic Hudson) 914.489.1568

                                                                                                                                                                Jessica Ottney (TNC) 518.690.7873

                                                                                                                                                                Ethan Winter (LTA) 518.587.0774

                                                                                                                                                                Laura Ten Eyck (AFT) 518.581.0078

                                                                                                                                                                Andrew Zepp (FLLT) 607.275.9487

                                                                                                                                                                Marc Matsil (TPL) 212.574.6868



Conservation Groups Applaud Cuomo Administration’s Open Space Conservation Plan


Urge funding increase to combat impacts of climate change

and promote clean water and air, outdoor recreation and farmland protection.


October 20, 2014                – A group of New York State’s leading conservation organizations today affirmed their support for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s draft statewide Open Space Conservation Plan and called for a renewed state funding commitment to implement the plan. Once finalized, the plan will guide New York State’s open space and farmland protection investments through the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and other sources of public and private funding.


Leaders from the Open Space Institute, Scenic Hudson, The Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance, the Trust for Public Land, the American Farmland Trust and the Finger Lakes Land Trust offered praise for the governor’s momentous plan which underscores the multitude of benefits derived by effective land conservation. The Cuomo plan underscores the importance of protecting natural resources and emphasizes the important role land conservation plays in promoting clean water and air, outdoor recreation, working farms, habitat protection and climate change mitigation.


In offering support for the draft plan, the groups also urged Governor Cuomo and other state leaders to renew the state’s financial commitment to land conservation, which has fallen sharply since the recession hit and has not rebounded. This year’s total of $51 million in funding for land conservation programs within the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) through the state land conservation, farmland protection and municipal parks programs, stands at just 50 percent of what it was in 2008-09.


In order to reverse the funding trend and achieve the governor’s plan, the groups urged that the EPF be increased from $162 million to $200 million in the next state fiscal year. Within the expanded Fund, the groups urged land conservation funding programs be increased by $26 million (including a $10 million increase for the state land conservation program; an $11 million increase for the farmland protection program; and a $5 million increase for the municipal parks program).



“Governor’s Cuomo’s Open Space Conservation Plan outlines a land conservation agenda in keeping with our time; connecting land conservation to protecting our natural resources, promoting public access to parks, protecting farmland and responding to the effects climate change is having on ecosystems and habitats,” said Erik Kulleseid, senior vice president for the Open Space Institute. “The governor’s plan provides a terrific framework and we urge him and state leaders to renew New York’s commitment to investing in land conservation in a way that will achieve the goals set out in the plan.”


“The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens and Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey for crafting a new Open Space Conservation Plan that captures the critical benefits land conservation provides our state. New York’s land conservation program generates a $7 return for every $1 invested while creating jobs, buffering communities from extreme weather, protecting natural resources and improving our quality of life. We look forward to working with the Governor and other state leaders to enhance funding for this program in the coming budget to achieve these goals for all New Yorkers,” said Jessica Ottney Mahar, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in New York.


“New York State and the Hudson Valley are ripe with opportunities to implement Governor Cuomo’s Open Space Conservation Plan. Doing so will provide a multitude of benefits – designing resilient waterfronts in the face of sea level rise and destructive storms protects property values, while conserving the region’s farmland secures access to fresh, local food and the jobs of our food economy. New York State is fortunate to have such visionary planning document in place that shows us the path toward a vibrant and economically productive future,” said Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson.


“Governor Cuomo's Open Space Plan sends a clear message that New York must protect the land that is needed for our farmers and food businesses and to make farming and our food supply more resilient to severe weather. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to securing the state funding and taking other steps that are necessary to put this plan into action,” said David Haight, New York State Director, American Farmland Trust.


“Renewed investment from the Environmental Protection Fund will leverage a highly capable network of local, regional and statewide land trusts and other community partners. New York's 90+ conservation organizations, from Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust to the Western New York Land Conservancy, are dedicated to assisting families and local communities across the state. We greatly appreciate Governor Cuomo’s efforts to restore the Fund, and we look forward to doing what we can as partners to advance the state’s ambitious open space goals. Working together, we are building on a century of forward-thinking stewardship and collaborative land conservation in New York,” said Ethan Winter, New York conservation manager for the Land Trust Alliance


“The Governor’s Open Space Plan clearly outlines the steps that are needed to ensure the future of lands that are vital to both our quality of life and our economy here in the Finger Lakes Region. We applaud the priorities highlighted in the plan–specifically the conservation of prime farmland; lands that provide clean water to our lakes; and lands that provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation to residents and visitors alike. To achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the plan, however, we must make a greater commitment to funding these projects through the state's Environmental Protection Fund,” said Andrew Zepp, executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust.


Note:  Governor Cuomo’s Open Space Conservation Plan is available here:


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