Park Advocacy Day #15 Goes Virtual

Earlier this month, Parks & Trails New York, in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), hosted our 15th annual Park Advocacy Day. Despite this year’s event being different due to public health guidelines surrounding the pandemic, we still had a very successful day, engaging directly with dozens of key lawmakers.

PTNY and OSI, along with representatives of many Friends groups and sister environmental organizations, put forth three priorities to legislators:

  • $110 million for State Parks capital funding
  • $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, including $1 million for the Park & Trail Partnership Grant and $2 million for the Connect Kids to Parks program
  • $75 million in capital funding for the NYS Department of Environmental Conversation.

This year’s Park Advocacy Day was hosted completely virtually over Zoom, giving us the opportunity to incorporate some new programming for Friends groups yet allowing us to continue providing elements that have made Park Advocacy Day so impactful in the past.

In mid-February, we hosted a virtual workshop, Park Advocacy Workshop: Tell Your Story, Protect Our Parks, which featured two engaging speakers: NY Senator Jose Serrano, Chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, and Nancy Dwyer from the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park. During the workshop, we presented best-practices on creating an impactful story to share with decisionmakers.

We also continued our tradition of holding a prep session prior to our legislative meetings. After an overview of the potential impact of capital funding for our parks and historic sites by Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, staff from PTNY and OSI went over the asks and talking points for the day, as well as lobbying tips, best practices and our letter writing campaign tool.

Armed with accurate background information and strategies to share their stories, 47 advocates from 29 Friends groups and 5 partner organizations held 27 virtual meetings with legislators from every corner of the state on March 4th.

As our participants and team leaders reported back key takeaways from their meetings, it is clear that our legislators are not only aware of the role our public lands play in our state’s environmental and economic resiliency, but that increasing access and making all New Yorker’s feel welcome in the outdoors is paramount. Our parks have been vital during the pandemic as people seek solace, refuge and recreational opportunities in nature and our lawmakers clearly recognize the value in continuing the revitalization of our iconic state parks system.

Learn more about our recent Park Advocacy Day and our broader legislative platform by visiting our website, and stay informed of the latest legislative news by following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.