Environmental Protection Fund
Support a $300 million appropriation for the EPF
Through the EPF, New York is conserving and enhancing community parks and trails, farms, forests, rivers, beaches, and lakes. The EPF is supporting recycling programs, and zoos and botanical gardens. EPF programs improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers, attracting businesses, creating jobs and protecting our water, air, and natural heritage.
The EPF is critical to the future of New York’s parks and trails and provides funds for the following:
- NYS and local governments to acquire land for trail corridors and parks;
- municipal parks grants and waterfront revitalization grants, which fund many local park and trail projects;
- state land stewardship and public access to state parks, historic sites, and state forest lands and recreation facilities; and
- capacity-building grants to grassroots Friends groups that support the state parks system.
Unfortunately, current demand for EPF programs far outpaces appropriations and spending. Delays and long waiting lists for EPF dollars continue to threaten opportunities to leverage millions of dollars from local, federal and private sources.
Parks & Trails New York supports the Governor's proposed appropriation of $300 million for the EPF. This level of funding for the EPF will enable environmental needs across the state to be addressed, including land acquisition for trail corridors and parks; municipal parks and waterfront revitalization grants; and state land stewardship and public access to state parks, historic sites, and state forest lands and recreation facilities.
Support the Park and Trail Partnership Program
Among the important programs supported by the EPF is the Park and Trail Partnership Program, a $500,000 capacity-building grants program for organizations that promote and support the state parks system. The Park and Trail Partnership Program, administered by Parks & Trails New York in partnership with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), unlocks the potential of these organizations by increasing their effectiveness, productivity, and volunteer and fundraising capabilities. This enhances park, trail and historic site stewardship, leading to even greater economic benefits from outdoor recreation and healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities. (See our report on the impact of Friends groups on our state parks and historic sites.)
PTNY applauds Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders for supporting this landmark investment in grassroots Friends organizations and urges increasing the program from $500,000 to $1 million for a fourth round in the SFY 2018-2019 state budget.
Support sustainable funding for environmental agencies
In addition to the need to enhance the EPF in the coming budget, state agencies responsible for administering the EPF and implementing important programs that protect our shared environment and public health need resources adequate to meet existing needs. Staffing levels at the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Department of State remain deeply reduced. Reductions to staff levels at these agencies by prior administrations were disproportionately large and must be addressed. Staff restorations at each agency would increase efficiency and effective administration of important programs.
Ban single-use plastic bags and expand the bottle bill
Plastic bottles and single-use plastic bags have polluted our parks, trails and waterways for decades and efforts are needed to reduce their usage and encourage recycling efforts, making New York greener for all. Expanding the current bottle redemption law to include additional types of plastic containers will help reduce plastic refuse levels and increase waste diversion rates. Plastic bags are not biodegradable and require greenhouse gas emissions from cradle-to-grave, posing long-term threats to health and to the environment. Parks & Trails New York supports the Governor’s proposal to expand the bottle bill and ban single-use plastic bags, promoting a cleaner, greener future for New York.