State Park System Gives Back Five Times State Investment
New study reveals annual economic impact close to $2 billion, plus 20,000 jobs
A new economic analysis released by Parks & Trails New York shows that the New York State Park System is a valuable economic asset to the Empire State. It supports up to $1.94 billion in output and sales for private businesses, plus 20,000 jobs.
The analysis also demonstrates that the economic benefits exceed the direct costs of operating and maintaining the State Park System many times over. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than five to one-more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.
"New York's State Park System produces substantial revenue for New York's businesses and jobs for New Yorkers. The Governor and Legislature should reinvest in our state parks to put money in New Yorkers' pockets today and for the state's economic future," says Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, in the press release on the report.
* Read executive summary * Read full report
State Funding for Parks and Trails Still Uncertain
The state's budget-making process this year has generated more questions than answers, at least where funding for parks, trails and the environment in general are concerned. Right now it's uncertain if there will be an on-time state budget, but what is clear is that we can take action to keep the pressure on to ensure that critical funding for state parks capital projects, trails projects, the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and other important environmental programs is included in the enacted state budget.
Time is running short
Please contact your assemblyperson and senator today and urge them to:
- Fully fund the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including $19 million for state parks capital projects and $21 million for municipal park grants to fund local park and trail projects
- Provide bonded monies to fund parks capital projects, if these projects are not included in the EPF
- Pass the Bigger Better Bottle Bill with the proceeds from the unclaimed bottle deposits going to the (EPF)
PTNY Advocacy Days a Great Success
Supporters of parks and trails devoted two full days to meeting with lawmakers to generate support for critical funding in the 2009-2010 state budget. Parks & Trails New York's third annual Parks Advocacy Day on March 3 was an opportunity for members of Park and Historic Site Friends organizations to meet with legislators, and advocate in support of a fully funded Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Includes $19 million in parks capital funding in the EPF is critical for continuing the efforts begun this year to revitalize the State Parks System. Advocates highlighted the economic benefits the State Park System provides and the jobs created as a result of the parks revitalization effort. Advocacy Day participants also spoke of the need to enact the Bigger Better Bottle Bill and the important role the unclaimed bottle deposits can play as a source of funding for environmental programs.
As part of the second annual Trails Advocacy Day on March 11, New York State Trails Coalition members from across the state joined with Parks & Trails New York staff to meet with key legislators and urge their support for a fully funded Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) including $21 million for municipal parks grants for local park and trail projects, preservation of the Hudson River Valley Greenway as a separate agency, and completion of the Canalway Trail. These visits to lawmakers provided an opportunity for Trails Coalition members to speak as one strong voice on behalf of trails and demonstrate to legislators the breadth, depth, and strength of support for trails in New York State.
Read more about Parks & Trails New York's Legislative Agenda for 2009.
Federal Stimulus Package Holds Promise for Trails
The Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed by Congress could mean welcome dollars for trail projects within the state. New York will receive a total of $1.12 billion in highway funding. Key for trail advocates is that $33.6 million (three percent) of this highway allocation must be spent on the state's Transportation Enhancements program, a major source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
The rest of the highway monies will be used primarily for road and bridge modernization, but, as this funding is flexible, some of it could also be directed to bicycle and pedestrian and complete streets projects. Eligible projects must have been selected by the state's 13 regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO's) for inclusion on their Transportation Improvement Program lists. In areas without MPOs, the State Department of Transportation is working with local officials and the Governor's Economic Recovery Cabinet to identify priority shovel-ready projects.
Go to the special website for project funding announcements and to register to receive updates on what the State is doing to implement the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Champlain Canalway Trail Vision Forming
In January Parks & Trails New York joined with 18 other organizations and municipalities that make up the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group to offer two public workshops about the proposed Champlain Canalway Trail between Waterford with Whitehall. At these sessions, held in Schuylerville and Fort Ann, residents were invited to share their suggestions on what route the trail should follow as well as any specific opportunities a trail would provide for their communities or barriers to completion. Large maps of the corridor were available on which attendees could mark important destinations, connections, obstacles and other features. Public participation was strong and entirely supportive of the trail concept.
The working group is now compiling all of the input to identify a preferred route for the 58-mile multi-use trail and prepare a report to be presented to communities in the corridor. This report will present concrete actions that can be taken next to move toward the vision of a continuous trail in the future. Currently, about seven miles of the trail are built and open for use, with another 13 miles planned for construction.
Camp, Swim, Hike at a State Park
Improvements and upgrades abound.
The fast-approaching summer parks season will feature many upgrades and improvements at the state's parks and historic sites. With an historic infusion of $132 million in capital funding in 2008, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has made great strides in the first year of its efforts to overcome a capital projects backlog of more than $650 million. Some of the highlights park visitors can look forward to this year include: the rehabilitation of the Peerless Pool complex at Saratoga Spa State Park, restoration of deteriorating cabins at Allegany State Park, restoration of the bathhouse at FDR State Park in Westchester County, and the reopening of a reconstructed pedestrian tunnel at Bear Mountain State Park that will provide safe passage across a busy highway to the park's pool and zoo.
These are just a few of the nearly 200 projects that have been undertaken at 80 parks and historic sites across the state. In the coming year, OPRHP has plans for dozens of additional projects, but this can't happen if the state budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 doesn't include sufficient capital funding for the state park system. Parks & Trails New York encourages everyone to contact their Senator and Assembly member to let them know that funding for the state park system is important.
Canal Clean Sweep Approaches Record; New Kickoff Event Planned
The 4th annual Canal Clean Sweep is coming Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19. The number of planned cleanup events scheduled across the state establishes a new record with over 80 events! A list of events and contact information is posted on Parks & Trails New York's website.
Register your Canalway Trail Celebration event by April 3!
Again this year, the Canalway Trail Celebration is set to coincide with National Trails Day on June 6. Last year more than 40 local events, ranging from family bike rides and boat tours to interpretive history walks, arts and crafts festivals and a "planting party," drew thousands of trail and canal enthusiasts to communities across the state. Help make this year's Celebration even better; register your event by April 3 or contact Parks & Trails New York (518-434-1583)