Time to Push for a $4M EPF Line
We are thrilled to share an important step towards the Catskill Park Coalition's goal of an ongoing $4M line for the Catskills, out of the increase to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Liz Krueger, on behalf of the Senate Democratic Conference, have included our $4M request in their budget priorities letter (please see attached letter and excerpts) to Senator Flanagan, Majority Leader.
It's now up to us. We need the Governor to include a similar provision in the final budget. We need your help with three phone calls.
Please pick up the phone right now and call the Governor's office (518.474.8390) today. Let him know you want an ongoing $4M line for the Catskills, from the Governor's proposed increase to the Environmental Protection Fund.
Time is of the essence! Budget negotiations are going on right now with less than two weeks left. The governor's never had a late budget so please pick up the phone right now. We have a very good shot at this but we need to make sure our voice is heard loud and clear: we need to BUILD A MODERN PARK!
Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this huge first step possible by writing letters, making phone calls and knocking on doors in Albany last month for Catskill Park Awareness Day. We're not done yet, but this is moving in the right direction. Please help us spread the word far and wide!
To the dozens of supporters who helped us meet with more than forty legislators representing every piece of the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve and the chair every committee representing the region's interests, THANK YOU! To the thousands of supporters who signed our online petition, THANK YOU! To the hundreds who picked up the phone and called their legislators or wrote a letter in support of the Catskill Park Coalition, THANK YOU! Click here to download our thank you from Catskill Park Coalition co-chairs, Jeff Senterman, executive director here at the Catskill Center, and Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Sign up for the Catskill Center's newsletter and check our news page and blog for details on the progress we've made after another successful Catskill Park Awareness Day! For details on this year's request, or to send a follow up message to your legislator, see below.
Catskill Park Awareness Day
Each year the Catskill Park Coalition gathers in Albany to meet with legislators to discuss the urgent needs of the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve. This annual Catskill Park Awareness Day event has generated an historic line item for the region under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Aid to Localities budget, support for our Forest Rangers through renewing a Ranger Academy, funding to promote the Catskill Park and more, and additional support for the Catskill Interpretive Center.
Couldn't make it to Albany?
You can still sign up for our online petition! Or, download this sample letter of support for Catskill Park Awareness Day then send a letter (handwritten if possible has the most impact!), call or email your state representative! Click below for contact info for your New York state representatives and ask them to help build a modern park!
Catskill Park Awareness Day 2016 Priority Requests
SUPPORT FOR A $300M ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FUND
We request support for a $300M EPF as proposed in the Executive Budget.
CATSKILL PARK FUNDING - PLANNING, INFRASTRUCTURE MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENTS, COMMUNITY GRANTS
We request continued support for the creation of a $4M line item in the expanded Environmental Protection Fund for the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve; and an ongoing Catskills line item in the DEC Aid to Localities budget of $500K for planning, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, smart growth community grants, and stewardship activities throughout the Catskill Park.
NYS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION FOREST RANGER AND DIVISION OF LANDS & FORESTS SUPPORT
We request continued support for Forest Ranger academies to fill vacancies and the expansion of the budget for DEC Division of Lands & Forests to provide the ability to properly manage and oversee the Catskill Park.
CATSKILL INTERPRETIVE CENTER IMPROVEMENTS AND SUPPORT
We request support for capital projects (pavilion, amphitheater, fire tower, trails, solar arrays, electric vehicle charging stations) at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center as well as operational support and funding to grow visitorship and increase visitor services offered at the Catskill Interpretive Center, the Gateway to the Catskill Park.
PRIORITY LAND ACQUISITION
We request an increase in the EPF for land acquisition and your support for priority land acquisition projects to knit public lands for more recreational opportunities and increase access in the Catskills.
SUPPORT FOR PARK STEWARDSHIP PROGRAMS
We request greater support and growth of public/private stewardship partnerships such as the Catskill Conservation Corps, the Catskill Summit Stewards program, Fire Tower Stewards program, and the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) to counteract resource degradation from increased visitorship and invasive species. We also suggest the state more strongly support invasive species work that can prevent the spread of new invasive species through state strike teams in the Catskills.
About the Catskill Park Coalition
The idea of the Coalition is the outgrowth of efforts by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Catskill Mountainkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to seek additional resources for the Park. In the 2013 legislative session the Catskill Center, Catskill Mountain Club, and NY/NJ Trail Conference tested the waters in Albany through an “awareness day” of meetings with key state legislators about the need to increase funding for the Park. A DEC commitment to construct a larger building in the first phase of the Catskill Park Interpretive Center was one of the group’s accomplishments from that day. The success of this first trip to Albany showed that there needed to be a broader, longer-term campaign to try to advocate for increased funding for the Park and for a dedicated Catskill group to speak on the Park’s behalf. The Catskill Park Coalition, an alliance of like-minded groups working together toward this goal.
Coalition Structure and Members
The Coalition is guided by a five-member steering committee with representatives from the Catskill Center, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NRDC, Catskill Mountain Club, and Catskill Heritage Alliance. Members consist of a wide array of local, regional, state, and national groups with a Catskill focus: the environment, tourism, community revitalization, culture and the arts, and agriculture, to name just a few areas. We look forward over time to the membership both growing and taking up leadership for specific issues that arise from a broad consensus on what issues the Coalition should advocate for.