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Nonprofit Groups Commend State-of-the-State Focus on Adirondack, Catskill Park Protection

Nonprofit Groups Commend State-of-the-State Focus on Adirondack, Catskill Park Protection

January 7, 2022 — Albany, NY — A coalition of outdoor nonprofits, including ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) and the Catskill Center, applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for proposals in her State-of-the-State address that will not only benefit the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, but New Yorkers across the state.

“We thank Governor Hochul for acknowledging the important role that the Forest Preserve plays in the lives of New Yorkers, and we hope to see this proposal turned into action as part of a $500 million Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) in the budget,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director. “Furthermore, we applaud the governor’s attention to our need for clean air, water, and green jobs by proposing the $4 billion Bond Act. These investments will not only improve the wellbeing of Adirondack communities, but New Yorkers across the state.”

The groups look forward to seeing the Bond Act on the 2022 general election ballot statewide. Last year, ADK, the Catskill Center, and 24 other organizations and municipalities urged the governor to include funding for critically needed services in the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, including trail work, recreational infrastructure, and educational outreach. On January 5, the governor responded by proposing that the EPF be used to support investments into these very efforts.

“After years of advocacy, we are thrilled to see Governor Hochul include support for the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves in her State-of-the-State proposals,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We look forward to continued work with Governor Hochul and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ensure the Catskill Forest Preserve is protected, managed, and resourced appropriately.”

The groups also applaud Governor Hochul for proposing funding for upgrading water infrastructure. They urge that she include $1 billion in new funds for clean water infrastructure in her Executive Budget proposal, as clean water is essential to the health of communities in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and across New York state.

“The Nature Conservancy was thrilled to see Governor Hochul commit to conservation, stewardship and safe access in New York’s Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves in her State-of-the-State address,” said Peg Olsen, Adirondack Director of The Nature Conservancy in New York. “Our Forest Preserves are a key source of clean air, clean water and carbon storage and also provide unparalleled opportunities for people to connect with nature. In order to move our state’s ambitious climate change and conservation agenda forward, we must expand the Environmental Protection Fund to $500 million and make urgently needed investments in the Adirondacks and Catskills as part of the next State Budget.”

“In the State of the State, the Governor’s words ‘…support stewards to engage visitors and the community to ensure that all of us can benefit from these shared natural resources,’ are especially important to me because ‘all of us can benefit’ includes those of us who have not traditionally accessed or benefited from access to New York’s forest preserve lands. I’m encouraged to see the support for education and stewards in the State of the State and I’m looking forward to seeing resources provided for this in the budget so that NYS forest preserve neophytes will feel welcomed, and learn how to respect, protect and be safe as they venture into these beautiful spaces that need our support. You can’t expect people to want to care about and protect what they don’t know or have access to, so educational stewards will be an incredible asset to the visitors, the community, and the parks. I am so proud to live in a state that is striving to protect and increase its green spaces while encouraging equitable access for all,” said Benita Law-Diao, John Brown LIVES!

“I am especially encouraged by the Governor’s call for comprehensive planning,” said Adirondack Wilderness Advocates co-founder Pete Nelson. “Comprehensive planning is not a one-shot deal.  It calls for ongoing science, data and measurement that allows us to understand and respond to the increasingly dynamic challenges facing the Forest Preserve.  Those of use who served on the State’s High Peaks Advisory Group put data-driven planning at the center of our recommendations.  It is clear from the State-of-the-State language that this Governor takes those recommendations seriously.” 

“The Catskills are a state treasure, and Mountainkeeper is thrilled to see Governor Hochul’s commitment to funding these essential lands, forests, and waters,” said Katherine Nadeau, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Deputy Director.

“The Catskill Center looks forward to joining with other organizations to advocate for this funding in the budget,” said Christina Ricciardelli, Advocacy Coordinator for the Catskill Center. “February 1 is Catskill Park Day, an event in which we and other Catskill Park Coalition groups bring awareness to the list of the Catskill Park’s and local communities’ needs via a virtual roundtable event with the governor and state legislators.”

The Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserve Parks collectively represent over 6.5 million acres of land, or nearly a quarter of New York state.

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