New York’s parks preserve priceless landscapes and ecosystems, provide opportunities to improve our physical health and mental well-being, and enhance our quality of life. Often overlooked, but equally important, is parks’ contribution to the economy. As highlighted in Parks & Trails New York’s report, The NYS Park System: An Economic Asset to the Empire State, our state parks generate nearly $2 billion in economic benefits for the state and local economies, supporting small businesses and creating more than 20,000 jobs in addition to state parks employees.
In 2014, more people than ever—62 million—visited the 180 state parks and 35 historic sites that comprise the state park system. In spite of parks’ overwhelmingly broad-based support they often get short shrift in the state budget process. Years of neglect have led to a more than $1 billion backlog in infrastructure needs across the park system. Buildings, walkways, bridges, and water systems are in various stages of disrepair.
Overall Goals of the Campaign for Parks
- Ensure that state parks are adequately funded and remain open, clean, safe, and accessible.
- Organize parks Friends groups and other parks supporters into a broad-based, effective force for New York’s parks, mobilized to protect parks’ extraordinary legacy for years to come.
- Build the capacity of park and historic site Friends groups so they can be stronger partners in supporting and advocating for the state park system.
- Increase state support of parks through funding for the Environmental Protection Fund and federal support through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
- Be the go-to resource for legislators and in the eyes of the public about the contributions of parks to the health, quality of life and economies of their districts and the state.
- Establish a dedicated funding stream for parks and increase private support of state parks.
History & Accomplishments of the Campaign for Parks:
Parks & Trails New York is proud of our role as the leading statewide advocate for New York’s parks since 1985. Our accomplishments include:
- Keeping parks open in 2010
We led the fight to keep all parks and historic sites open in the face of a proposal to close 88 parks and historic sites to save the state $11 million.
When Gov. Cuomo announced the NY Works Fund and his budget proposal for parks, including $89 million in capital funding, we were vocal in our support and mobilized our constituents. The $89 million was included in the final 2012-2013 state budget. Read PTNY’s press release on the final budget.
We successfully advocated for increased capital funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) in the 2008-2009 state budget: $75.5 million, the largest infusion of capital in agency history at that time.
Over the past three years, Governor Cuomo has put parks in the forefront of his efforts to rebuild the state’s infrastructure and economy. Thanks to the leadership of the Governor and the Legislature, state parks have received an historic infusion of capital funding through the New York Works initiative - nearly $270 million - to restore and rebuild state parks’ aging and dilapidated infrastructure. This ongoing commitment is breathing new life into a park system that has suffered from decades of underfunding while creating thousands of good-paying local jobs and helping to grow the state’s economy.
Parks & Trails New York looks forward to continuing to work with the Governor, Legislature, Friends groups and park supporters on protecting and preserving the legacy of our great park system.
This new statewide event is a collaborative project with OPRHP and local Friends groups and seeks to bring visibility to the entire state park system and its needs, as well as boost the capacity of Friends groups. Thousands of volunteers - including Governor Cuomo - took part in 40 events held in every region of the state on May 5, 2012 for the first-ever I Love My Park Day. Learn more.
Parks & Trails New York organized the first-ever statewide Park Advocacy Day in 2006, bringing park advocates to Albany to educated legislators about the importance of New York’s parks. We have made Parks Advocacy Day an annual event, with dozens of park supporters participating annually. Find out more about Parks Advocacy Day.
- Outreach to State Park Friends Groups
You Gotta Have Friends: PTNY’s quarterly e-newsletter for Friends of the NYS Park System informs and catalyzes park and historic site Friends groups, park users and citizens. Read past issues and subscribe.
We developed an online Friends Resource Kit for state park and historic site Friends groups and launched an online discussion forum.
We organize—in partnership with the Alliance for NYS Parks—occassional regional Friends group gatherings, meeting with hundreds of park and historic site enthusiasts, representing dozens ofFriends groups.
Our Growing the Grassroots capacity building grant program has provided many state park and historic site Friends groups with grants to help build their organizations.
Parks & Trails New York has published a series of influential park reports.
This report depicts a state park system in crisis and puts forward a three-fold plan of action to protect and revitalize New York’s parks and historic sites, including permanent funding through a new dedicated funding stream.
We commissioned the Public Economy Research Institute (PERI) to study the economic impact of the NYS State Park system. The resulting report reveals that state parks are economic engines that generate $1.9 billion in economic activity in New York State annually. The findings prove that, for very little investment, parks provide our state with a very large economic return--for every $1 the state invests in them, parks generate $5 in economic activity.
A follow-up to Parks at a Turning Point, this report highlights the progress OPRHP was making in overcoming the capital projects backlog and the need for continued capital funding.
This influential report documents how years of neglect had contributed to the crumbling infrastructure at State Parks. The report was referenced in a speech by the Governor, and led to an unprecedented commitment by the state to repair and improve the state park system.