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.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our Work
Since 1985, Parks & Trails New York has been dedicated to improving New York’s health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space for all. We believe that equity and access is the backbone of this work and have joined other organizations to support the broader goal to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our parks, trails, open spaces, and beyond.
We are very cognizant of the need for equity to drive the work we do. Nationally, non-white individuals access public lands at a much lower rate than white individuals. In addition, Black and brown people in the U.S. are three times less likely to live with close access to nature. Experts analyzing this gap attribute it overwhelmingly to structural racism, past and present, in the United States. The issue is not just about who feels comfortable accessing the outdoors. Environmental organizations are overwhelmingly white, as well. A study from 2018 found 83% of environmental organization Boards were white, while 85% of staff were. Access and comfort in public green spaces is also tied to economic ability and intellectual and physical ability. Other factors such as age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs can impact comfort in–and use of–our public lands. Our public green spaces—and the organizations dedicated to supporting them—need to work with access for all in mind to truly benefit communities in NYS and beyond. PTNY is committed to advancing this work.
To address these inequities in access to public green space and the lack of diverse representation in the environmental field, PTNY formed an organizational DEI committee in spring of 2020. The goals of the Committee are to steer our organization onto a better path to help identify, discuss, and apply solutions for issues of inequality in our work. Since then, our staff has met regularly to identify growth, share informative resources and DEI work models from other organizations, and benchmark progress on internal and external efforts.
This is deep and important ongoing work, and change will not happen overnight. The staff and Board of PTNY are, however, committed to moving the needle on equity in the outdoors in whatever way we can.
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, Healthy 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.