Record Number of Volunteers Take Part in Community Clean-Up Projects at 110 State Parks and Historic Sites across New York
Governor Cuomo announced that thousands of volunteers participated in the fifth annual ‘I Love My Park Day,’ attending community clean-up, beautification and stewardship events at more than 110 state parks and historic sites across New York. Members of Governor Cuomo’s administration and nearly 7,500 volunteers participated in dozens of parks projects including planting trees and gardens, clearing debris, restoring trails and wildlife habitats, cleaning shorelines and beachfronts and more.
"From Letchworth Park to Grafton Lakes, this state is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the world, and it is our duty to protect them for the next generation of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. "'I Love My Park Day' celebrates these open spaces and continues this state’s rich tradition of preserving our natural resources and expanding access to outdoor recreation. I thank all New Yorkers who volunteered to help make this year’s ‘I Love My Park Day’ another great success."
Held on the first Saturday in May, this year’s event, sponsored jointly with Parks & Trails New York, included new partnerships with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Park Service, Excelsior Conservation Corp. and the New York Commission on Volunteer and Community Service.
Members of Governor Cuomo’s administration who participated in ‘I Love My Park Day’ include:
- Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey;
- Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito;
- Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan;
- Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams;
- Deputy Secretary for Agriculture and Markets Patrick Hooker;
- Director of Regional Affairs Mark Streb; and
- Mohawk Valley Regional Representative Peggy Rodriguez.
Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin said, “Today, thousands of New Yorkers will roll up their sleeves to give back to the parks they love. Their efforts, coupled with Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the revitalization of the state parks system through his Parks 2020 plan, serves as a national model for the stewardship of our beloved natural, cultural and historical treasures.”
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "'I Love My Park Day' is a great way for New Yorkers to show their support for New York’s wonderful park system. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his commitment to our state parks and to Parks & Trails New York for helping to organize this inspiring initiative. I thank all of the volunteers who came out and invested their time and passion into something we can all be proud of.”
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC was thrilled to work with State Parks and Parks and Trails New York to host events at DEC facilities for the first time on ‘I love My Park Day. We’re grateful for the work of all the volunteers who helped clean up and restore our sites in the Adirondacks and Catskills. We look forward to working with our partners on this event in the future.”
NYS Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, “The New York State Parks are a treasure that people the world over have enjoyed for generations. Governor Cuomo's annual tradition to bring families and the community together to spruce up these beautiful landmarks for the summer season is a great way to make sure these spectacular places can be enjoyed to their fullest."
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, “’I Love My Parks Day’ is a great excuse for us to get outside of the office, enjoy fresh air and work alongside friends and family to clean up our parks and trails. Thanks to all those who have taken time from their weekend to give back to their communities.”
Local volunteers participated in projects ranging from raking leaves to planting trees to creating new flower boxes and sprucing up butterfly gardens. Additional projects included clearing miles of trails and walking paths, constructing bird blinds, building picnic tables, painting, cleaning grills and fire pits and removing invasive species. Last year more than 6,500 volunteers participated in 200 improvement projects and contributed 16,000 hours of community service on ‘I Love My Park Day’.
In 2011, Governor Cuomo launched ‘I Love My Park Day’ to improve and enhance New York’s treasured parks and historic sites and bring increased visibility to New York’s state parks system. Since its inception, nearly 20,000 volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of hours to improving public lands on this day alone. To view ‘I Love My Park Day’ action from across the state, click here.
New York State is making an historic commitment to improve and expand access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks through 2020. To date, more than 225 projects have revitalized and rejuvenated more than 130 State Parks and Historic Sites. The Governor's 2016-17 Executive Budget allocates $90 million toward this initiative.
This year, New York State will continue to debut and promote new gateways to state parks through the Thacher State Park Visitors Center, Letchworth State Park Nature Center and Ganondagan State Historic Site Cultural Center which provide anchors for visitors wishing to explore. The $70 million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park and $65 million revitalization at Jones Beach continues as does the creation of New York’s newest state park, Buffalo Harbor State Park which is advancing and introducing new outdoor access to the City of Buffalo’s once forgotten waterfront.
The 2016-17 State Budget includes $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, the highest level of funding in the program’s history and an increase of $123 million over last year. The increase will provide record funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda. Further, this funding level will allow for the creation of new programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
Last month, Governor Cuomo launched the Connect Kids to Parks program to enhance educational and recreational opportunities for schoolchildren and help promote parks and historic places in every corner of the state. As part of that effort, New York will partner with the National Park Service to extend free State Park day-use entry to all fourth-grade students and their families in 2016, as well as create a grant program to help transport schoolchildren to outdoor recreation and environmental education programs at state parks and historic sites across New York.