Catskill, Adirondack Groups Applaud State Budget
Catskill, Adirondack Groups Applaud State Budget
April 11, 2022 — Albany, NY — Catskill and Adirondack conservation and recreation groups applaud the New York State legislature and Governor Hochul for passing an ambitious budget that prioritizes land stewardship and environmental protection. The final budget includes nearly $50 million for State Land Stewardship within an historic $400 million Environmental Protection Fund.
Within State Land Stewardship, the final budget includes $8 million in funding dedicated specifically for Adirondack and Catskill “visitor safety and wilderness protection activities to address issues relating to overuse.”
The final budget comes six months after a coalition of twenty-six outdoor recreation and conservation organizations and municipalities, including ADK and the Catskill Center, began lobbying legislators for $10 million in the New York State Budget to address high recreational use in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.
Also confirmed was a $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act, which will now go before voters in November 2022. If passed, it will spur economic growth in New York by devoting funding to projects that address climate resiliency, water quality, land conservation, and other environmental issues.
“The funding directed at managing high use is a much-needed boost for the partnerships and efforts by the state, local government, and conservation groups that have been taking shape for the past few years. Stewardship and environmental protections are critical to keeping the Park a special place for New Yorkers for generations to come,” said Joe Pete Wilson, Supervisor, Town of Keene, NY.
“Given this vital and substantial funding, Governor Hochul and state legislators clearly understand the value of the Catskill Forest Preserve to New York State,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We are thrilled that they have ensured there is balanced funding between the Catskill Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Forest Preserve. This historic funding will help steward both the Catskill and Adirondack Parks, and go a long way toward assisting both Preserves manage high use.”
Peg Olsen, The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Director said, “The Nature Conservancy is thrilled the state budget includes a record $400 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, including $8 million dedicated to visitor safety and wilderness protection in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. Our forest preserves provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage, and incredible recreation opportunities for millions of New Yorkers. State conservation funding is critical to protecting our natural resources and addressing global warming. The Nature Conservancy commends and thanks Governor Hochul and the State Legislature for including historic conservation investments in this year’s budget.”
“It is exciting to see New York recognize the need to increase funding and support our forever wild lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves,” said Joshua Howard, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. “We hope that this budget is the first step to ensuring that these lands are accessible for recreation for all who seek to enjoy them and the measures needed to sustain their ecological integrity are supported.”
“This additional funding will allow the Paul Smith’s College VIC to add staff and the number of environmental education programs we provide. We want to thank the Governor, Senate, and Assembly for allocating these funds for the VIC,” said Scott van Laer, Director of the Paul Smith’s College VIC.
“Thank you to all those who have worked in partnership to ensure that financial support is available to address the needs of a growing number of travelers who are now visiting the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. Staffing, infrastructure, information sharing, and access are key components to provide a safe and enjoyable recreational experience,” said Carol O’Beirne, President of the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce.
“This important budget agreement has accomplished what a generation of previous budgets have not, which is to substantively invest in the stewardship of our “forever wild” Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve, the only constitutionally protected public lands in the country. We thank legislative leaders and Governor Hochul. In the years ahead, we have to similarly grow the number and diversity of professional stewards and rangers needed to accomplish this important work,” said David Gibson, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.
“Governor Hochul, the Senate, and the Assembly deserve all the credit they’ve received for investing in the Catskills and Adirondack Parks in this year’s budget and putting a $4.2 billion bond act before voters. These investments are always needed, but the COVID 19 pandemic shifted people outside, intensifying the impact on our public lands. Funding will improve trail safety and maintenance, in addition to supporting public education and outreach to help visitors enjoy the parks while preserving the Catskills’ and Adirondacks’ splendor,” said Katherine Nadeau, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s deputy director.
“The State has stepped up, and at an ideal time,” said Adirondack Wilderness Advocates Co-Founder Pete Nelson. “Record levels of visitation are a great problem to have – we want these wild places to belong to all New Yorkers. We don’t need to solve the challenges that come with increased use, we need to manage them. With this budget the State has definitively recognized the importance of world-class management for our world-class Forest Preserve.”
“Congratulations and my sincere thanks to the Governor, the State Legislature, and the leaders who brought the Adirondacks and Catskills together to recognize we are one State and one Forest Preserve. Protection of this amazing natural resource for the enjoyment of the people of the State of New York is only accomplished through strong stewardship. Having the resources to steward the land is critical!” added William Farber, longtime advocate for the Adirondacks.
“We are thrilled to see $8 million in the final state budget dedicated to the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve Parks for safe and enjoyable recreation experiences that protect natural resources and benefit communities. ADK is looking forward to working with DEC and stakeholders as this funding is used for trail safety and resiliency, educational outreach, trailhead infrastructure, and to implement the recommendations of the High Peaks and Catskills Strategic Planning Advisory Groups. We are so thankful for the work of our Adirondack and Catskill Senators and Assemblymembers, as well as Governor Hochul’s support for this funding,” said Cathy Pedler, ADK Director of Advocacy.
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