Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman
Year in Review header Helderbergs 2 2014
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OSI Celebrates State Budget Funding for Parks Investment and Land Conservation divider

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.”

 

 

 

 
 
Contact:

Eileen Larrabee
518.427.1564


 

                            

                     

 

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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