New York State Park Closures: More to the Story

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has released a list of 41 parks and 14 historic sites that they will close should Governor Paterson's proposed budget be approved. This is because the OPRHP operating budget is facing significant cuts. OPRHP is saying that a restoration of $11M for their operating budget is needed to keep the parks on the list open.

In addition, OPRHP has released a 2nd list to the Legislature of additional parks that they would close if a $5M "offload" proposed for the EPF is not approved. OPRHP would use the $5M to pay for operating expenses (staff).

The Trail Conference is united with a coalition of groups statewide--Friends of New York's Environment--in opposing all EPF ‘offloads.' In essence, the proposals represent a double attack on parks and environmental funding: drastically reducing, again, overall funding (a smaller pie) and increasing the number of programs that must be supported by it.

• The Governor's budget proposes a $50 million cut for the EPF (33%), not counting the offloads mentioned above, which is disproportionately larger than reductions proposed for other sectors. The EPF is the state's dedicated source of funding that protects New York's open spaces, as well as the state's drinking water supplies, Great Lakes, community recycling programs, zoos, botanical gardens and aquaria, pollution prevent programs, rivers, and waterfronts. The proposed reduction in the EPF and the complete moratorium on land acquisition will drastically reduce funding for these important programs while adding programs that have traditionally been funded with other funding sources.

• Environmental agencies (including OPRHP, DEC and Ag and Markets) are also disproportionately targeted in Governor Paterson's budget proposal. (See chart below.) In addition to the EPF cut, these disproportionate cuts to agency budgets put New York's land, air and water at risk.

• Restorations to environmental agency operating budgets should be made to prevent service reductions, including the closure of state parks. A $16M restoration for the OPRHP operating budget will keep our state parks from closing. Funding should be restored to the operating budgets of environmental agencies, but not at the expense of the EPF.

• The environmental community has worked with the Legislature and Governor to raise revenue for the general fund that can be used to fund agency operating budgets, including the passage of the Bottle Bill expansion last year.

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All Funds Proposed Spending Reductions by Agency
  Agency Proposed 2010-11 All Funds Spending Reduction
 Department of Environmental Conservation  -34%
 Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation  -19%
 Department of Agriculture and Markets  -10%
 Department of Education  -2%
 Department of Health  -1%