Albany Lawmakers Consider "Leave No Open Space" Proposal

November 25, 2009
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Albany Lawmakers Consider "Leave No Open Space" Proposal



Lafarge land cleanup
2007 and 2008, Trail Conference volunteers cleaned up a Trail Conference preserved parcel along the Shawangunk Ridge prior to expected transfer to state ownership. The transfer has not yet happened.


In a belated move to address a budget deficit years in the making, Albany lawmakers are considering another raid on the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and a moratorium on all open space acquisition.

The need to balance a budget is understandable, but barely 1% of New York State's revenues are allocated for environmental purposes, an amount that already is drastically below the national average. The proposals circulating in Albany will result in a disproportionate cut to land acquisition that will not significantly impact the deficit.

Created in 1993 as New York State's first permanent, dedicated environmental funding
mechanism, the EPF supports capital projects and programs aimed at protecting water
and air quality, conserving vital agricultural lands and open space, and promoting public
access, education, and historical preservation.

The primary revenue source for the EPF is New York's 2% Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT). This makes a lot of sense-real estate development produces income for open space protection. Even though the EPF has this dedicated source of funding, nearly $500 million has been diverted over the years to unrelated uses, with a promise that it will be repaid.

We are deeply troubled by the current proposals to cut environmental spending in New York. Protecting open space, including working landscapes like farms and forests, protects jobs, safeguards drinking water, and forms the foundation of the State's significant tourism industry. Perhaps most important, it provides low-cost, close-to-home recreation and renewal opportunities for millions of New York residents. This is especially important in these difficult times.

Past raids on the EPF have created a backlog in projects, including $2 million in land being held for the State by the Trail Conference. If the State does not make good on these transactions, we may have to sell these lands on the open market.

Talking points: 

Please tell the State not to renege on these agreements. Send a message to the Governor with a copy to the Chairs of the Environmental Conservation Committees in the Assembly and Senate.

A joint letter by several organizations is attached (click here to download) and you should feel free to copy any of the language. In particular, say "No" to a moratorium on land acquisition.

Please act now as the deficit reduction plan will be finalized in early December. To send an email, simply click on the name.

Contact Information

Governor David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson
409 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
518- 455-2788

Senate Minority Leader Dean G. Skelos
907 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
518- 455-3171

Senator Antoine Thompson
Chairman, Senate Environmental Conservation Committee
902 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
932 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb
933 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248

Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney
Chairman, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee
625 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248