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Catskill, Adirondack Groups Applaud One-House Budget

Catskill, Adirondack Groups Applaud One-House Budget

March 15, 2022 — Albany, NY — Catskill and Adirondack conservation and recreation groups applaud the New York State Assembly and Senate for prioritizing state land stewardship in their one-house budget bills. The Assembly ensured that at least $10 million will be dedicated to the Adirondack and Catskill Parks in their bill, and the Senate is providing over $50 million for state land stewardship across New York State. The State Land Stewardship Line of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) supports trail building, educational stewards, and recreation infrastructure like trail bridges and sanitation facilities, among other projects on public recreation lands.  

These one-house budget announcements come six months after a coalition of twenty-six outdoor recreation and conservation organizations and municipalities, including ADK, began lobbying legislators for $10 million in the New York State Budget to address high recreational use in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. In January, Governor Hochul responded to this by proposing a record-high $400 million EPF in her Executive Budget and increasing the State Land Stewardship line to $50 million (an increase of about $15 million from last year) which she indicated in her State of the State Address would include funding for these issues. 

Both the Assembly and the Senate one-house budgets also propose a $400 million EPF. The Assembly budget creates a line under State Land Stewardship in the EPF that would devote at least $10 million to the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. The Assembly bill proposes State Land Stewardship overall at $42,565,000. The Senate one-house budget provides over $50 million for State Land Stewardship and adds an option for $13 million in “carveouts for Senate priority items” which is where specific projects for the Adirondack and Catskill Parks could be funded. 

“We applaud the Assembly and the Senate for making the protection of New York’s Forest Preserve a priority,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director. “These investments would mean more educational stewards, new infrastructure, better trails, and more support systems to ensure that the Forest Preserve remains both protected and accessible for future generations.” 

“Over the last few years, the state has taken notable steps toward improving Forest Preserve protections, including convening the High Peaks and Catskills advisory groups and appointing Park Coordinators for both parks,” said Cathy Pedler, ADK Director of Advocacy. “This week, the Assembly and Senate underscored that commitment with funding that will allow the state and its partners to continue to turn recommendations into actions.” 

“We know that the Forest Preserve is incredibly valuable to New York State on so many levels, including environmental protection and outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We’re thrilled that the Senate and the Assembly also value this unique resource and have dedicated funding to properly care for and steward the Forest Preserves of the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.” 

In celebrating this step forward for the Forest Preserve, the coalition would like to particularly thank the support of Assemblymembers and Senators from the Adirondack and Catskill Parks who worked to include this request in the one-house budgets, including; Assemblymembers Billy Jones, Matt Simpson, and Chris Tague, and other Forest Preserve Assemblymembers; and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright, Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Deputy Majority Leader and Committee Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Also, the group would like to thank Senators Hinchey, Stec, and Kaminsky, as well as Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader, and Senator Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader. 

The groups look forward to the final budget and hope to see at least $50 million in the State Land Stewardship Linewith at least $10 million dedicated to the Forest Preserve Parksto ensure that projects to address increased use in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks can be put into action.  

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