2018 Priorities: State Parks
Protect and revitalize parks for future generations
Keep The Momentum Going For Parks
Support continued capital investments to restore and rebuild state parks' aging and dilapidated infrastructure
Thanks to the leadership of the Governor and the Legislature, state parks have received a historic infusion of capital funding through the Governor's NY Parks 2020 initiative to restore and rebuild state parks’ aging and dilapidated infrastructure. This 10- year commitment is breathing new life into a park system that has suffered from decades of underfunding while creating thousands of local jobs and helping to grow the state’s economy. However, with it set to expire in 2020, now is the time to plan for the future.
Despite New York’s legacy as a leader in parks and conservation and our park system’s importance to the state’s economy, our state parks remain chronically underfunded. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) estimates the capital backlog at about $1 billion. This includes critical safety repairs such as rehabilitating dams, replacing aging water and sewer lines, and bringing electrical systems into compliance with fire codes.
Continuing to invest in our treasured state park system will keep people working to help grow New York’s economy sustainably, boost tourism in communities across the state, and secure our parks and conservation legacy for future generations. Let’s keep the momentum going, with another round of at least $90 million in Parks 2020 capital funding for state parks infrastructure improvements, putting the state on a sustainable course to meet future maintenance demands.
Enhance operating budget for OPRHP
The State Parks operating budget continues to be a concern. While the operating budget is essentially flat, it does not account for inflation. As attendance increases, a tight budget for state parks is diminishing visitor experience. The effects of this budget contraction can be felt on the ground with reduced hours, days, and seasons, fewer programs and workers, fewer park police, and less maintenance, not to mention fewer resources dedicated to natural resource protection and the visitor experience. More visitors also mean greater wear and tear on facilities and increased pressure on park staff to keep up with visitor needs and safety.
PTNY urges the Governor and Legislature to begin to put OPRHP’s operations budget on an upward trajectory so that our state parks and historic sites can more fully realize their potential as destinations and economic engines for local communities.
State Parks provide residents and New York communities with multiple benefits:
- According to OPRHP officials, park attendance is at record levels - visitation is now up to more than 71 million, the highest in a decade.
- Parks are economic engines for local communities. According to a study commissioned by Parks & Trails New York, parks generate $5 billion in spending and 54,000 jobs (not including park staff) annually. These revenues support tourism and small businesses.
- The benefits state parks provide New York far outweigh their cost. State parks make up a mere one-fifth of one percent of the total state budget. For every dollar New York spends on parks, our state’s economy enjoys a nine dollar return.