Funding Kicks Off Series of Events on Earth Week
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 55 nonprofit land trusts across the State. Representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event today at Teatown Lake Reservation in Westchester County. The announcement launches a weeklong celebration of Earth Week, which recognizes New York’s commitment to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.
“New York’s natural resources play a vital role in our economy, and today we are taking another step forward in protecting and preserving them for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “With these grants, New York’s Environmental Protection Fund is securing critical funding for environmental and open space programs that will continue to protect our environment, generate jobs and revenue in local communities and ensure a cleaner and healthier New York.”
The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will leverage an additional $1.7 million in private and local funding to support projects to protect farmland, wildlife habitat, water quality, enhance public access for outdoor recreational opportunities, and conserve priority open space areas important for community health, tourism and regional economic development. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with DEC.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “DEC’s partnerships with land trusts are crucial to achieving our conservation goals, without which there would be many land conservation projects that would not be possible. Governor Cuomo continues to demonstrate his commitment to the environment, diversity, providing opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen, and improving recreational access opportunities near where people live in New York State. This year’s budget provided a $15 million increase to the Environmental Protection Fund including increases to land acquisition, municipal parks and environmental justice grants.”
The 12th round of Conservation Partnership Program grants, administered by DEC, will help local land trusts sustain and expand community and landowner outreach initiatives and develop an array of land conservation, stewardship and education programs. The grants will further regional economic development goals by strengthening partnerships with local and state governments and advancing locally supported efforts to protect working farms, enhance public access and recreation opportunities, and conserve private lands prioritized in New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan and state wildlife action plan. Land trusts will also apply grant funds to prepare for accreditation, supporting New York land trust commitments to rigorous national standards for nonprofit governance and organizational excellence.
Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance said, “We commend Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Martens and the New York State Legislature for their tremendous support of this pioneering initiative and for taking steps to enhance the EPF in this year’s state budget. Time and time again we see how the EPF and the Conservation Partnership Program are cost-effective investments that pay vital dividends for public health, local communities and New York’s economy.”
Seth McKee, chair of the Land Trust Alliance’s New York Advisory Board and land conservation director for Scenic Hudson said, “The Conservation Partnership Program has demonstrated impressive statewide success by supporting land trusts in our local communities. Together with state funding for land conservation and farmland protection, this program helps to protect and care for New York’s natural heritage and working lands, and create trails, preserves and community gardens. It also benefits our economy, from tourism and outdoor recreation to farming and forestry. The program continues to be a model for the EPF because it unites the goals of New York’s Open Space Conservation Plan, meets the needs and desires of local municipalities, and enables private landowners and land trusts to achieve their goals.”
Grant awards range from $2,100 to $75,000. Among the 55 land trusts awarded grants were several local organizations based in Westchester County including: Teatown Lake Reservation, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester Land Trust, Bedford Aududon, Lewisboro Land Trust, North Salem Open Land Foundation and Pound Ridge Land Conservancy.
The EPF-funded grants will also support green infrastructure, urban trails and community garden programs administered by Green Guerrillas and Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust in New York City, Kingston Land Trust, Capital Roots (formerly Capital District Community Gardens) in Albany/Troy, Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo and Buffalo Niagara Land Trust.
Other organizations receiving grants this year include: Agricultural Stewardship Association, Champlain Area Trails, Columbia Land Conservancy, Dutchess Land Conservancy, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Genesee Land Trust, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, North Shore Land Alliance, Otsego Land Trust, Peconic Land Trust, Saratoga PLAN, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Western New York Land Conservancy.
For a summary of this round of grant awards and awardee directory, click here.
The $1.8 million was awarded by region as follows:
- Western New York /Finger Lakes/Southern Tier: 11 awards totaling $289,600
- Central New York/Mohawk Valley: 5 awards totaling $127,000
- North Country: 9 awards totaling $275,900
- Capital District: 18 awards totaling $413,690
- Mid-Hudson: 27 awards totaling $516,810
- New York City: 2 awards totaling $51,000
- Long Island: 4 awards totaling $126,000
Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded over 647 grants totaling $11.3 million in EPF funds to 86 different land trust organizations across the state. The state’s investment has leveraged $13 million in additional funding from local communities and private donors.
The 2015-16 State Budget increased the Environmental Protection Fund by $15 million to $177 million. An additional $20 million in Wall Street settlement funds is allocated for permanent farmland protection in the Hudson Valley to help secure New York City’s foodshed.
Recent research underscores how New York’s investment in land conservation and open space boosts property values, supports local businesses, saves taxpayer dollars and protects public health. A 2011 study by the Trust for Public Land found that every dollar of investment from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund generates $7 in total economic benefits from tourism, reduced government costs and public health.
The EPF grants announced today will support local efforts that contribute substantially to the Hudson Valley region’s $800 million agricultural sector and $4.3 billion tourism economy by helping to preserve the state’s most productive agricultural lands and expanding public access to trails and other popular recreation areas. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in New York directly supports 305,000 jobs across the state, generating $15 billion in wages and tax revenue.
A map and a complete listing of the 2015 grant recipients can be found here.
About the Land Trust Alliance:
The Land Trust Alliance is the national leader of America’s land trust movement, serving 1,600 non-profit land trusts nationwide, including 90 local organizations in New York. The Alliance works to accelerate the pace, increase the quality, and ensure the permanence of community open space conservation throughout the state and across the country.
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