December 12, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of New Blueprint to Guide Preservation of Natural Resources Across New York

Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of New Blueprint to Guide Preservation of Natural Resources Across New York

New Open Space Conservation Plan To Guide Funding for 140 Priority Projects Identified by Nine Regional Advisory Committees Supports Governor Cuomo's Environmental Goals of Ensuring Clean Water, Air and Land, Greening New York's Economy, Protecting Natural Resources and Promoting Outdoor Recreation Provides Recommendations for Using Open Space Conservation to Improve State's Preparation and Resiliency Against Climate Change

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the final 2016 Open Space Conservation Plan, which provides a blueprint for how the conservation and protection of open space can accomplish the state's environmental goals. The Plan, developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will guide funding through the Environmental Protection Fund to safeguard important habitats and natural resources across New York. The 2016 Open Space Conservation Plan is available here.

"New York’s open space conservation efforts are essential to improving the environment and economy of the state, and this new plan will guide our continued efforts to protect the state’s precious natural resources," Governor Cuomo said. "From the Adirondacks to the Catskills to Long Island, New York has an abundance of natural resources and exquisite open spaces that we must protect for future generations to enjoy."

The final Open Space Conservation Plan provides a blueprint for how open space conservation can help accomplish Governor Cuomo’s environmental goals, including:

  • ensuring clean water, air, and land for a healthy public and vibrant economy;
  • greening New York’s economy;
  • protecting natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation;
  • increasing, deepening, and improving the visitor experience to state parks and lands;
  • creating a 21st century parks system that is aesthetically compelling, energy and operationally efficient, and built to last.

The plan also includes recommendations on how open space conservation programs can better prepare the state for climate change by improving resiliency following extreme storms and weather events. More information on open space is available here.

Priority projects range from the South Shore Estuary Reserve of Long Island; to underserved Community Parks in New York City; to the Niagara Escarpment; to the Finger Lakes; to the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie Shorelines, Islands and Niagara River; to additions to State Parks, State Forest Lands and Wildlife Management Areas; to the Fort Drum Army Compatible Use Buffer; to Hudson River Corridor, Estuary, and Greenway and Hudson River School Art Trails.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "By dramatically increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, Governor Cuomo demonstrated his commitment to protecting New York’s open spaces. New Yorkers and visitors love open spaces and the plan will ensure New York’s natural resources are protected and preserved for future generations. The plan makes common sense recommendations that will protect water quality, farms, forests, and wildlife habitat, provide opportunities for public recreation, and bolster resiliency to protect property from the effects of storm surges and flooding. I thank everyone who helped create this final conservation blueprint."

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "New York State parks and public lands are essential components of the quality of life in our communities. These lands offer visitors peaceful and fun-filled getaways, promote healthier lifestyles, and serve as important economic drivers for local communities. The State’s abundance of parks and open spaces are a good reason for families and business to relocate to New York."

Senator Tom O'Mara, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "It's critical that the state's ongoing initiatives to implement balanced, commonsense and effective strategies to strengthen conservation and outdoor recreation, preserve vital open spaces, and enhance environmental quality and economic growth continue to respond to locally based input and challenges. This Open Space Conservation Plan puts forth important short- and long- term ideas to achieve common goals across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, and statewide."

Assembly Environmental Committee Chair Steve Englebright said, "New York’s open spaces protect our quality of life and natural history heritage. I am pleased that the 2016 Plan for Open Space Conservation is ready to go forward. This is an investment that will benefit present and future generations forever."

The plan was developed with the assistance of nine Regional Advisory Committees composed of representatives of county governments and representatives selected by the Department of Environmental Conservation and State Parks, all knowledgeable in open space conservation.

Each Regional Committee was asked by the Commissioners to review the State’s 2009 plan, including priority open space conservation projects, as well as policy recommendations, to make New York’s comprehensive open space conservation program stronger in the future.

The 140 priority open space projects identified by the Regional Advisory Committees, which are eligible for acquisition funding from the Environmental Protection Fund, will extend New York’s proud tradition of open space protection. The priority conservation projects in the Plan result from extensive analysis of open space conservation needs by the Committees in consultation with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and public comments received during Committee meetings and the Plan’s review process.

Since 1992, the Open Space Conservation Plan has served as the blueprint for the State’s Open Space Program, guiding the investment of land protection funds from the Environmental Protection Fund. As required by law, the plan is updated periodically, relying heavily on the input of the nine Regional Advisory Committees.

Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York, said, "The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation for releasing New York’s Open Space Conservation Plan, a comprehensive framework for conserving natural resources and increasing resilience in communities across our state. Through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) the important goals outlined in this Plan can be implemented, protecting New York’s farms, forests, clean water and other important lands so that they may continue to provide many benefits to New Yorkers and those who visit us. The Open Space Conservation Plan recognizes the impacts of climate change on New York’s landscapes, and the role of nature to both mitigate climate change and increase the resilience of our communities. The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with New York State to implement this conservation blueprint so that New York’s natural resources are preserved for future generations."

Ethan Winter, New York Program Manager for the Land Trust Alliance, said, "We must do what we can to help communities conserve and protect New York's most vulnerable natural resources, including clean water, wildlife habitat, working forests and prime farmland. This blueprint keeps New York at the national forefront, leading with smart investments that promote regional economies and healthy communities. New York's conservation community applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo, state Commissioners Basil Seggos and Rose Harvey, as well as the regional advisory committees for their efforts to update and strengthen the state's open space conservation plan. We especially appreciate that the new plan recognizes a central role for land trusts as partners, allies and advocates for community-based, collaborative conservation across the state."

Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute, said, "The Open Space Institute congratulates Governor Cuomo on completing this important update of the New York State Open Space Plan. The Open Space Plan underscores the important role land conservation plays in protecting natural resources, promoting outdoor recreation, and supporting working farms, habitat protection and strong communities. The final plan’s emphasis on conservation as an essential response to climate change is a critical addition. This science-based, climate resilience criteria, advanced by The Nature Conservancy, the Open Space Institute and our partners, will help facilitate wildlife adaptation and protect our communities from floods, droughts and other disruptive and costly impacts from a changing climate."

Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson, said, "Preservation of forests, wetlands, waterfront open space and agricultural lands will play a crucial role globally and regionally in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Governor Cuomo continues his visionary leadership in tackling this challenge through the release of an Open Space Plan that details the role New York State and its conservation partners can play in protecting habitat and communities from sea level rise and the other impacts of a changing climate. We welcome the opportunity to continue to collaborate with the Governor and the Commissioners of DEC, OPRHP, and Agriculture and Markets in implementing this nationally significant plan."

Jason Kemper, Chairman of the Conservation Fund Advisory Board, said, "Sportsmen and women applaud Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Seggos for releasing the State Open Space Conservation Plan, which provides for open space purchases to protect wildlife habitat and improved access to State lands for hunting, fishing and trapping."

Executive Director of Audubon New York Erin Crotty said, "New York’s Open Space Plan provides a strong blueprint for the State’s open space conservation efforts. We are grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Administration for their leadership and vision in developing this 5-year action plan to guide the protection and conservation of our irreplaceable natural resources. Audubon is appreciative of the Plan’s emphasis on the role open space protection plays in helping mitigate the impacts of climate change as Audubon science indicates that half of North America’s birds are at risk from a warming climate if we don’t act now to reduce emissions and protect the place birds need to survive now and in a warmer future."

Andrew Zepp, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, said, "The Open Space Plan sets forth a clear vision for conserving those lands that are vital to the future of our state. In the Finger Lakes Region, priority projects identified in the plan will help ensure public access to our lakes and also help ensure water quality. We applaud Governor Cuomo and his team for their strong commitment to New York's environment."


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