FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Catskill Park Coalition Calls On State Legislature To Prioritize The Catskills

January 28, 2018 ARKVILLE, NY — On February 5, the Catskill Center, Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Catskill Park Coalition will lead groups of volunteers in a day of Catskills advocacy in Albany to call on the Legislature to fully fund the Catskill Park and Region. The Catskills are a New York State gem, and by funding the Park and Region, the state can improve tourism opportunities while preserving a unique and important ecosystem.
 
The day will be spent discussing the needs of the Catskill Park, Catskill Forest Preserve and our Catskill communities with legislators, who will be presented with the 2019 priorities - as they have been determined by the Catskill Park Coalition and its 35 member organizations.
 
“Governor Cuomo’s budget is a good start for the Catskills, but doesn’t go far enough to fund our region. The Catskills is an important and fragile ecosystem, which sees millions of visitors each year. We need to significantly increase staff at the Department of Environmental Conservation and fund a new Forest Ranger Academy in the 2020 budget to keep the Preserve and Region a safe and inviting place to live and visit,” said Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
 
The Catskill Coalition has called for a $15 million investment in the Catskill Park and Region, which millions of people visit each year. The package is designed to facilitate —
 

  • Aid to Localities funding line in the amount of $500,000 directed towards the Catskill Watershed Corporation for shovel-ready access and stewardship projects across the Catskill Park

  • $10 million in funding to support Catskill Park stewardship, education, improvements and infrastructure maintenance by the NYSDEC and through: 

  • Maintaining $300M Environmental Protection Fund and restoring NY Works funding for NYSDEC to $70M to provide adequate resources for all projects;

  • Continuing the Adventure NY Program;

  • Supporting stewardship line in the Environmental Protection Fund;

  • Supporting the Catskill Interpretive Center;

  • Continuing Campground and DEC facility improvements;

  • Funding Smart Growth Grants for Catskill Park communities;

  • Continuing stewardship programs with nonprofit partners; and

  • Implementing mountain biking plan at Shandaken Wild Forest.

  • Increase the budget and staffing for the NYSDEC’s Division of Lands and Forest in Region 3 and 4 to better manage Catskill Park ($500,000) 

  • Hold annual Forest Ranger Academies to maintain and grow Ranger force to maintain public safety ($750,000)

  •  Funding to support the “Save the Hemlocks” initiative led by Cornell University to reduce the impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on hemlock trees by developing effective biocontrols ($1,500,000) 

  •  Push for carbon neutral/green infrastructure in new projects across the Catskill Park including electric vehicle charging stations and solar panel installations at State Campgrounds, the Catskill Interpretive Center and at Belleayre Ski Center ($500,000)

  •  Support continued funding of the Belleayre Ski Center Unit Management Plan for projects not related to private resort expansion ($1,000,000) 

  • New funding for Catskill Park Scenic Byways to support regional byway coordination and management efforts led the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway and the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway organizations ($250,000)


Catskill Park Day efforts in 2018 resulted in millions of dollars of funding for the Catskills, including support of Catskill Interpretive Center, stewardship funding, infrastructure projects at state campgrounds and upgrades to Belleayre Ski Center. 
 
In years past - thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature - the Catskill Park and region have seen strong growth in the marketing and promotion of the Catskills, which has provided a boost to our tourism-based economy. State programs like the Governor’s Catskills Challenge and I Love New York promotions have dramatically raised regional awareness and buoyed the profile of the Catskills. We see the benefits of that promotion at locations like the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, where thousands of visitors a month are welcomed to the Catskill Park and region.
 
“The face of the Catskills has changed,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We’re no longer sleepy little towns surrounded by pristine forest. We’re seeing a boom in tourism, and a park that needs support to thrive. We are grateful for the Governor’s first steps in the FY 2020 executive budget to support our region, and we’re calling on the Legislature to further invest to make sure that when we, as stewards, pass the land forward to the next generation, it’s as vibrant as it was when it passed to us.”
 
The day’s success is largely determined by public participation. Here’s what you can do —

Be sure to document your action and share it on social media with the hashtag #catskillparkday2019. We’d love to hear how it went.
 
The Catskill Park Coalition is an alliance of like-minded groups committed to working together to broaden public appreciation for the Catskill Park and seek additional resources to enhance, maintain, and make available to the public the extraordinary opportunities the Park and its surroundings offer and can offer.
 
Catskill Park details can be found at http://catskillcenter.org/catskillparkday
 
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Heather P-L