Parks & Trails New York is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space.
With thousands of members and supporters across the state, PTNY is a leading voice in the protection of New York’s magnificent state park system and the creation and promotion of more than 1,500 miles of greenways, bike paths, river walks, and trails.
Parks & Trails New York works to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails, and open spaces throughout our state for use and enjoyment by all.
Justice, Equity, and Diversity Initiatives in our Work
Since 1985, Parks & Trails New York has been dedicated to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space for all. Parks & Trails New York does not support or condone racism, bigotry, or discrimination of any kind. We stand in solidarity with the black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities and all those working towards solutions to address this monumental problem. We vow to do more to support the broader goals of inclusion, equity and justice - in our parks, trails, open spaces, and beyond. We recognize that we have deep, meaningful, and accountable work to do. We understand that this will be an ongoing process of education and reflection. We realize our limitations but, we are listening.
Parks & Trails New York affirms Black Lives Matter. While the importance of equitable open space, parks and environmental justice are certainly not at the center of this movement, nor something that can be compared to the acts of police brutality against the black community, this topic should be a part of the larger dialogue. Environmental issues negatively and disproportionately impact BIPOC and other marginalized individuals, and therefore contribute towards the vicious cycle of discrimination and disenfranchisement.
We, over all else, recognize that this is inherently a difficult and long process, with no endpoint. Here are the actions we are taking now:
- We have formed a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee to identify areas for growth and accountability, internally and externally.
- We are identifying methods, partnerships and vendors that can expand and integrate our justice, equity, diversity and inclusion goals into our existing work and taking action towards implementation.
- We will partner with BIPOC-led and environmental justice-focused organizations to lend support and learn where we can be most effective in advancing anti-discriminatory work in the conservation community.
- We vow to share our progress as an organization, including updates on and assessments of the goals and actions we are aiming to achieve, to hold ourselves accountable and provide transparency.
In 1985 a group of passionate park advocates came together and decided that New York’s magnificent state park system merited its own advocacy group. At a conference in November of that year, New York Parks and Conservation Association was born.
The organization’s purview quickly grew to include trails, outdoor recreation, active transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian issues. In 2004, we became Parks & Trails New York to better represent our work and our vision of a connected network of parks and trails.
Over the last 30 years, PTNY has been at the forefront of the fight for revitalization of New York's state parks. In our landmark 2006 report, Parks at a Turning Point, we drew attention to the dire capital backlog at state parks. The report and subsequent advocacy efforts have resulted in an unprecedented renaissance of our state park system, with record level capital investment over the last several years and an annual I Love My Park Day that engages thousands of volunteers in improving and enhancing state parks and historic sites.
PTNY’s trail programs, which aim to transform unused transportation and other corridors into vibrant public places, have furthered dozens of trail projects and hundreds of miles of trail over the last 30 years. In 1991 PTNY launched the Genesee Valley Greenway, a 90-mile multi-use trail in western New York, laying the foundation for many other community trail projects across the state. Our Healthy Trails, Health People program, created in 2003, assists communities with local trail development to improve community health and quality of life. Our Close the Gaps campaign seeks to complete the entire 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail between Buffalo and Albany. When complete this trail will be the longest and most historic multi-use trail in the nation.
PTNY is committed to enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers by improving and expanding access to parks and trails so individuals can enjoy the outdoors and benefits of nature close to home.
30 Years of PTNY
- Concluded Healthy Trails, Healthy People program work resulting in 9.2 miles of new trail opened in six communities and 11.6 miles of existing trail enhanced in seven communities
- Successfully advocated for state-funded new $500,000 capacity-building grants program to be administered by PTNY
- Received Trail Advocacy Award from national trails advocacy organization, American Trails, in recognition of our years of trails advocacy
- Launched NYS Park Friends Technical Assistance Program
- Successfully advocated for significant annual infusions of capital funding for state parks and historic sites which continued into 2015
- Formed New Yorkers for Active Transportation (NY4AT) coalition with Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) and New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) to advocate for continued federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs
- Organized and published results of the first-ever statewide trail count of 14 trails in conjunction with NYS OPRHP
- Launched the Erie Canalway Trail End-to-End Program
- Launched the first annual statewide I Love My Park Day
- Published 1st edition of Cycling the Hudson Valley guidebook
- Organized regional Finger Lakes trail and greenway conference in conjunction with Finger Lakes Land Trust
- Published Bicyclists Bring Business; A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities
- Launched Cycle the Erie Canal Close the Gaps campaign in conjunction with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and published first of annual Close the Gaps reports
- 88 state parks threatened with closure due to budget constraints; PTNY leads the grassroots effort to fight to keep them open
- Completed first NYSDOH grant: 27 different communities in 25 counties received assistance with trail development resulting in 12 new miles of trail open to the public, 7.5 miles of trail under development
- Received second five-year grant from NYSDOH for continuation of Healthy Trails, Healthy People program to assist low income rural and urban communities with trail development
- Published Getting on Track: Working with Railroads to Build Trails in New York State
- Launched Cycling the Erie Canal interactive website. Website won award for Best Travel and Tourism Site for Trails from the national trails advocacy group, American Trails
- Released economic impact study of state park system.; report frequently cited in Governor and OPRHP press releases and publications
- Presented Healthy Trails, Healthy Communities, PTNY’s third statewide greenway and community trail conference in Rochester
- Launched Canalway Trail Ambassador Program
- Launched Growing the Grassroots capacity building grant program for park and trail not-for-profits
- Published study of road and trail intersection safety across the state
- After several years of effort, Senate and Assembly passed legislation to create a task force to plan a statewide multi-use trail network; vetoed by Governor
- Launched Bicyclists Bring Business roundtables in Canalway Trail communities
- Persuaded lawmakers to devote an unprecedented 2% of the New York Transportation Bond Act to walking and biking projects
- Reached an important milestone in our work along the Erie Canalway Tail: more than 2/3 of the way to becoming the longest multi-use recreational trail in the U.S.
- Released Parks at a Turning Point landmark report documenting crumbling infrastructure at state parks and historic sites
- Created Statewide Trails Coalition made up of 89 trail groups and local governments
- Launched Great Hudson Valley Pedal bicycle tour from Albany to New York City
- Initiated first statewide program to make New York’s parks and trails more accessible to people with disabilities
- Launched annual publication of Who’s on the Trail? Annual Canalway Trail User Count, estimating annual usage at selected sites on the trail
- Presented Healthy Trails, Healthy Communities, PTNY’s second statewide greenway and community trail conference in New Paltz
- Launched annual Canal Clean Sweep to engage Canalway Trail communities in trail and canal clean up and beautification activities.
- Changed name to Parks & Trails New York
- Published Getting Started: A Guide to Planning Trails in New York State
- Published 1st edition of Cycling the Erie Canal; a guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail
- Created electronic newsletter now reaching 18,000 subscribers
- Spearheaded successful efforts to save funding of NYS trails through the federal Transportation Enhancements Program
- Created Healthy Trails, Healthy People program linking local trail development with improving community health
- Adopt-a-Trail program launched on the Canalway Trail
- Created web-based Trail Finder Maps
- Created Greenways and Community Trails Awards and presented them at greenways conference in Syracuse
- Publish Getting Involved; A Community Trail Handbook for Landowners, in cooperation with the Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley
- Launched Cycling the Erie Canal bicycle tour from Buffalo to Albany along the historic Erie Canalway Trail
- Created Building Community Trails map to promote our vision of a statewide trail network
- Organized Statewide Parks Conference, “Championing New York’s Parks”
- Launched Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor project
- Created the George W. Perkins Award in honor of former president of Palisades Interstate Park Commission; Larry Rockefeller first honoree
- Spearheaded report, Preserve & Protect; Challenges Facing New York’s State Park System
- Advocated for creation of State Park Infrastructure Fund
- Launched Genesee Valley Greenway project
- First of many significant grants from American Conservation Association received to support organization development
- Organized first statewide Greenways Conference
- Started working with local advocates on the D&H Canal Heritage Corridor
- Launched GreenSpace newsletter
- New York Parks and Conservation Association organized by statewide park advocates; began as a chapter of National Parks Conservation Association
- Convened statewide Forum for Action and publishes Priorities for the Future; An Action Plan for New York State’s Parks, Open Space and Cultural Resources