Parks supporters push for continued revitalization

Park Advocacy Day 2015 Captial Region TeamNew Yorkers from across the state came together at the State Capitol on March 3 for the 9th annual Park Advocacy Day to urge policymakers to protect and preserve New York’s state parks. Representatives from more than 30 park Friends groups, environmental organizations, local parks, and educational organizations made the case for state park funding in meetings with 50 state legislators.

Park advocates urged state lawmakers to support the Governor’s $110 million capital investment in the state park system in this year’s state budget, enhance the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and support a new grants program for Friends groups that support and strengthen the state’s parks, trails and historic sites.

Social media was also buzzing with support for state parks. Check out the #lovenyparks hashtag on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Thanks to the nearly $270 million investment made by the state over the last three years the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has been incrementally addressing an estimated $1 billion in infrastructure needs and critical safety repairs, breathing new life into an aging park system.

The day before Park Advocacy Day, Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey was at Saratoga Spa State Park for the unveiling of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s seven-point framework to realize NY Parks 2020, a multi-year commitment to transform state parks and invest $900 million through 2020.

Included in the Governor’s budget proposal for the EPF is $500,000 for a new capacity-building grants program to increase the effectiveness, productivity, and volunteer and fundraising efforts of organizations that promote and support the state’s parks, trails and historic sites. The program will foster stronger local public/private partnerships to more effectively leverage multiple resources. This will enhance park, trail and historic site stewardship, leading to even greater economic benefits from outdoor recreation, improved access to outdoor resources, and healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities.

Funding for New York’s park system also creates strong local jobs and helps to grow the state’s economy while restoring and reinvigorating treasured state parks and historic sites. State parks provide a 5-to-1 return on investment and boost the state’s economy to the tune of nearly $2 billion annually. With more than 62 million people annual visitors, New York’s state parks and historic sites are primed to anchor the state’s regional tourism efforts, particularly in upstate communities.

With less than a month before the state’s budget deadline, you can help us keep the momentum going for parks in two ways:

  1. Contact your State Senator or Assemblymember today and tell them you want them to support:
    • the Governor’s proposed $110 million investment in capital projects for parks;
    • the direction of the Governor’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) funding level and an increase to $200 million; and
    • a new $500,000 capacity-building grants program for organizations that support and strengthen the state’s parks, trails and historic sites.
  2. Spread the love for parks on social media: You can help us spread the love for parks by posting your photos from state parks on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Use hashtag #LoveNYParks and tag your legislators..
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