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Forest Preserve Group Applauds One-House Budget

Forest Preserve Group Applauds One-House Budget

March 20, 2023 — Albany, NY — A Forest Preserve group comprised of 32 organizations and municipalities applauds the New York State Assembly and Senate for prioritizing state land stewardship in their one-house budget bills.The budget proposals restored the dedicated funding line for the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserve Parks as an appropriation of $10 million under the EPF’s State Land Stewardship funding.

“The Forest Preserve needs dedicated funding to manage the issues of today and tomorrow. Without resources, we risk losing the many benefits that come from public lands, including space for recreation, clean drinking water, forests to sequester carbon, and more,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director. “We thank the legislature for recognizing this need and look forward to seeing a dedicated Forest Preserve line in the final budget.”

Peg Olsen, The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Director said, “The Nature Conservancy thanks New York State legislators for growing the Environmental Protection Fund and restoring $10 million for 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 providing safe and more equitable access to the great outdoors. The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with state leaders and partners to ensure these critical investments are included in this year’s state budget.”

“The Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves are the crown jewels of New York’s natural environment and must be treated as such with annual, dedicated funding to ensure their protection and improvement. Our Forest Preserves offer space for recreation and appreciation of flora and fauna, ensure clean water, and more,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We’re grateful that the legislature understands and recognizes this need by restoring the annual Forest Preserve funding that the Governor did not include in her budget.”

“We are so grateful to the Senate and Assembly for their support of the Adirondacks and Catskills. This action shows the commitment by the legislature and DEC’s partners to get the job done and ensure that the Forest Preserve Parks and the communities within them are successful and thrive,” said Bill Farber, Town of Morehouse Supervisor. “The dedicated funding in the EPF puts DEC in a stronger position to work effectively with their stewardship partners allowing us all to work together to enhance and protect our beautiful parks in the year ahead.”

“Funding stewardship in the Catskills and Adirondacks makes our Forest Preserves healthier while providing safer and more accessible opportunities for visitors to get out and explore some of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Ramsay Adams, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Executive Director. “Every state dollar spent in the Forest Preserves is multiplied by the dollars visitors spend at local businesses, and every dollar spent at a local business allows our communities to thrive. Catskill Mountainkeeper applauds the Senate and Assembly for including this funding in their budget proposals and encourages the Governor’s office to adopt these items in the final budget.”

“Thank you to the NYS Legislature for committing to keeping public lands accessible for people of all backgrounds and abilities and seeing the value of capacity-building around making sure that these spaces are inclusive to all who visit,” said Roni Weiss, Travel Unity Executive Director.

“The Paul Smith’s College VIC is appreciative of NYS lawmakers’ efforts to restore Forest Preserve funding. We stand committed to working with all partners for a sustainable Adirondack Park, now and forever, ” said Scott van Laer, Director Paul Smith’s College VIC.

“The Town of Hunter is greatly appreciative to the NYS Senate and Assembly for their support of these dedicated lines of funding for both the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. This funding allows for increased management and stewardship of State lands by DEC, and enables opportunity for small and rural communities within the Parks to craft meaningful solutions to the many challenges we have faced during the pandemic.  We at the Town of Hunter look forward to continued work with our State and local partners in making the Catskill Park a safe and welcoming environment for all residents and visitors,” Sean Mahoney, Hunter Town Supervisor.

The Adirondack Council is very pleased to see Assembly and Senate leaders take seriously their role as protectors of the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves,” said Raul J. Aguirre, Acting Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “Dedicated Forest Preserve funding in the EPF ensures that this won’t be a short-term fix but rather lead to a sustainable solution that will provide tangible benefits for a long time to come.”  

“The Open Space Institute is grateful to New York State lawmakers for increasing the Environmental Protection Fund and restoring funding for open space protection and the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves. New York State’s parks and open spaces are increasingly popular. With this expanded visitation and use, dedicated funds are needed to steward these lands by protecting delicate ecosystems, ensuring visitor safety, and providing welcoming and accessible outdoor experiences. We look forward to continued leadership by the State Senate and Assembly in the coming weeks as they work toward a final budget.” Kathy Moser, Chief Conservation Officer, Open Space Institute.

“What makes this funding so important is the timing: it lets us continue what we started,” said Pete Nelson, co-founder of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. “The State is entering a new era of management and protection of the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserve, with science and data leading the charge. These new methods need the financial support this budget would provide. I’m grateful that the Legislature understands the importance of these initiatives.”

The NYS managed forested lands and waters in the Adirondacks and the Catskills Forest Preserves offer our rural communities and businesses these unique assets to promote travel and build a tourism economy focused on recreation and sustainable business growth that respect and protect the lands and waterways of these mountains,” said Carol O’Beirne, President, Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, Inc.. “The Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, a regional business organization that is also the administrator for the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway supports the growth of the financial support in the One-House Budget initiative.”

“Adirondack Architectural Heritage thanks the NYS Senate and Assembly for their support of the Forest Preserve through an increased Environmental Protection Fund and dedicated funding for state land stewardship, along with supporting important Adirondack and Catskill public/private partnerships. These funds will preserve, protect, and steward these important places that make New York State special,” said Erin Tobin, Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage.

“The continued investment in education stewards who have direct interactions with visitors will advance the collective awareness and appreciation needed to help preserve these wild places for future generations,” remarked Peter Manning, Executive Director of the Catskill Mountain Club,” said Peter Manning, Catskill Mountain Club.

“Our member associations are focused on ensuring the Adirondack waterways remain clean and healthy for our residents and visitors. The one issue we hear that is a primary concern to all of them is funding support for the continuation of those efforts. The restoration of the funds for the Forest Preserve in the budget will help not only our lake associations but many other like minded organizations within the Preserve. We are grateful for the continued support from our elected officials in Albany,” said Scott Ireland, Executive Director, Adirondack Lakes Alliance, and President, Schroon Lake Association.

“State legislators are sending another clear signal that the forever wild Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks and its stewardship are important enough on a statewide basis to merit dedicated EPF funding in the state budget. No other state is blessed to have a Forest Preserve protected by the state’s constitution.  We’re unique, and the legislature gets that, and we thank them. Responsibility falls on the DEC to account for how these funds are spent and to bring all stakeholders together to evaluate the success of the program. so that this and future state budgets will always feature a dedicated Forest Preserve line item,” said Dave Gibson, Managing Partner Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

“The Adirondack 46ers are very pleased to see the commitment to our Forest Preserve lands and the communities within the Park through the dedicated funds that the Assembly and the Senate have included in their budget bills. The support for funds to protect our natural resources through trail repairs and improvements and to provide support to our Adirondack communities is very encouraging. We look forward to continued stewardship opportunities with our partners in NYSDEC in 2023,” said Laurie Rankin, President ADK 46ers.

“The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is thrilled to see that New York State lawmakers recognize the need to increase the Environmental Protection Fund and improve funding for the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves. The opens spaces and parks in New York are essential to the health and wellbeing to all our residents and communities that welcome everyone who wants to enjoy these amazing places.  It is inspiring to see New York State continuing to be a leader in supporting accessible and sustainable outdoor recreation.” Joshua Howard, Executive Director, NY-NJ Trail Conference,” said Josh Howard, Executive Director of the NYNJ Trail Conference.


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