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From the Executive Director: NY Tradition of Supporting Outdoor Recreation Lives On
Source:New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
From the Executive Director
New York State support for outdoor recreation is moving in a very good direction, recalling its long tradition of excellence. In the decade before the “Great Recession,” New York poured hundreds of millions into acquiring land, but park maintenance and capital projects seemed to languish. Since then, under the Cuomo administration, capital investments have averaged almost $100 million annually. While most of this goes into front-country infrastructure—roads, parking lots, swimming areas, bathrooms, water and sewer systems—a significant amount is increasingly being applied to park access and trails.
These funds are trickling down to projects that are near and dear to the hearts of many Trail Conference members and volunteers. Over the past few years, the state has made significant investments in the Appalachian Trail, Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, Hudson Fjord Trail, carriage road renovations in Minnewaska State Park Preserve, and dozens of other outdoor recreation projects that have received funding through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). Additionally, state funding has supported Trail Conference AmeriCorps crews serving in Fahnestock and Sterling Forest, the Catskill Conservation Corps, and invasive species management. The Cuomo administration has continued its support of the outdoors with additional investments in Minnewaska and the Catskills.
On Thursday, New York State announced its 2016 CFA grant awardees, and major projects increasing access to outdoor recreational opportunities were a significant part of the package. A few directly support Trail Conference priorities, including:
• $200,000 toward the completion of the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain.
• $254,000 to provide a northern gateway to Minnewaska via the magnificent but currently poorly accessible Stony Kill Falls, one of the four great waterfalls of the Shawangunks that the Trail Conference and Open Space Institute protected in 2000.
• $450,000 to purchase lands expanding Hook Mt. State Park, which contains Trail Conference trails.
All told, more than $5.4 million was awarded to 13 outdoor recreation projects in Rockland, Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster, and Orange counties. Projects include building new hiking, biking, and walking trails; new rail trails; constructing and rehabilitating visitor centers; and funds to purchase open space.
Often our elected officials only hear from our community when there is a crisis, like a pipeline that threatens to bisect a park or a proposed casino that looms too close to our trails. However, we need to reach out and let them know what we do like.
For example, you can join us when we head to Albany on Feb. 24. The goal of the Trail Conference and dozens of other organizations is to convince elected officials to fund the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) at $300 million dollars.
Even better, consider volunteering with our reconstituted Advocacy Committee, which will be working at the state and local level to protect and provide access to open space throughout our region. Contact Volunteer Coordinator John Leigh ([email protected]) for details on how to get involved, and check our advocacy page for updates on issues important to our mission.
Edward GoodellExecutive Director[email protected]