Lawmakers voted to approve a final budget for State FY 2015-16 that includes landmark investments in state parks infrastructure, environmental programs, and grassroots Friends organizations. Parks & Trails New York worked hard to see these investments enacted, and we are thrilled to be able to share this good news with our members and supporters.
PTNY applauds the Governor, the State Senate, led by Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Thomas O’Mara, and the State Assembly, led by Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Steven Englebright, for crafting a new state budget that will help grow the economy, promote tourism, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
State Parks Capital
The enacted budget keeps up the momentum in restoring New York’s iconic state park system with a $110 million capital investment. The funds will be used to address the backlog of infrastructure and critical health and safety needs at New York State parks and historic sites across the state, from repairing bridges, roads and dams, to rehabilitating restrooms and swimming pools.
In a press statement PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin said, “This infusion of capital funding breathes new life into a park system suffering from decades of underfunding. Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, the revitalization of our state park system can continue, boosting tourism, creating jobs, and securing New York’s parks and conservation legacy for future generations.”
Environmental Protection Fund
PTNY also commends state leaders for the appropriation of $177 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). PTNY is encouraged by steady progress towards the restoration of the Fund. This year’s $15 million increase in the EPF appropriation is a recognition that New York needs to invest in programs that protect our clean air and water, support parks, trails and farms, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
New Non-Profit Capacity-Building Grants Program
PTNY is very excited by the $500,000 EPF appropriation for a new capacity-building grants program for nonprofit organizations that promote and support the state’s parks, trails and historic sites. This public-private capacity-building grants program will be administered by PTNY in partnership with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It will unlock the potential of Friends organizations across the state by increasing their effectiveness, productivity, and volunteer and fundraising capabilities, enhancing park, trail and historic site stewardship and leading to even greater economic benefits from outdoor recreation and healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities.
We are grateful for the efforts of every one who called, wrote, and even came to Albany to urge lawmakers to support this critical funding. Your voice was heard loud and clear in Albany. This vital funding for parks and local Friends groups would not have happened without you.