Arkville, NY – We wish to express gratitude towards Governor Cuomo for his continued support of a fully funded Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) budgeted at $300 million. In addition, the Catskill Park Coalition was glad to see the inclusion of, at a minimum, $5 million to support the Catskills through the new Adventure NY proposal included in the Governor’s budget, though we would like to see specific details for how that money will be spent in the Catskills.
We applaud our local representatives for taking up the cause to improve the Catskill Park, including Senators Seward and Amedore for securing the Catskill Park’s Aid to Localities funding and Assemblymembers Cahill and Gunther’s continued support of the Park and the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center.
We hope that in this year’s budget, a “Catskills Package” can be secured, supporting both enhanced access to, and stewardship of, our public lands ultimately providing a world-class experience for visitors and residents alike that strengthens the economy on Main Street and our natural environment.
In years past, thanks to support from Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature, our beloved region has seen strong growth in the marketing and promotion of our region, providing a boost to our recreational tourism-based economy. Programs like the Catskills Challenge, have drastically raised awareness and the profile of the Catskills as a region. We’ve also seen expanded support for our local tourism groups, like Catskill Area Tourism Services, as well as the opening of the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center. The Coalition also looks forward to advancing a Comprehensive Recreational Planning process in the coming months that will update recreation plans for a variety of public lands, more places and more ways to play in the Catskills will be a boon to our region’s recreation-based economy.
The Catskill Park Coalition unanimously agrees that the following projects are to be priorities for the Catskills. These are all projects that the diverse members of the Coalition, a group representing regional enterprise, conservation groups, land trusts, environmental advocates, sportsman’s groups, religious groups and recreational users, believe will continue to improve our public lands to benefit all stakeholders in the future. Please visit CatskillParkCoalition.org for details on the Coalition.
These projects were developed with input from members of the Catskill Park Coalition and the Catskill Park Advisory Committee. Together these efforts will continue to expand the positive economic benefit of public lands in the Catskills, growing a sustainable economy that protects our ecosystems while maintaining vibrant Main Streets.
This year, the Catskill Park Coalition is seeking:
• Continuation of Catskill Park Aid to Localities line in the amount of $550,000 with $500,000 towards access and stewardship projects, directed to the Catskill Watershed Corporation and $50,000 towards staffing and operations costs at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, directed to the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, who manages the Catskill Interpretive Center on behalf of the NYSDEC;
• $4 million in funding to support Catskill Park stewardship, improvements and maintenance by the NYSDEC and through contracts such as the Catskill Conservation Corps, Professional Trail Crews and Summit/Trail Stewards to increase stewardship efforts to match the growing number of visitors in the Catskill Park. Continuing scientific efforts such as the Catskill Environmental Research & Monitoring (CERM) program by directing funding to the Cary Institute to manage this program;
• Providing at least $2 million in support of the “Save the Hemlocks” initiative led by Cornell University to reduce the impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on hemlock trees by developing effective biocontrol (Laricobius negrinus) and thereby leveraging funding from Cornell, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and private sources;
• Funding the Catskill Area Tourism services in the amount of $2 million to improve regional marketing, direct visitors to the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, improve safety and stewardship messaging and provide better connections between the Catskill Park and its communities;
• Increasing the budget and staffing for the NYSDEC’s Division of Lands and Forest to better manage Catskill Park. Holding annual Forest Ranger Academies to maintain and grow Ranger force to maintain public safety. $1 million; and
• Completing an economic study for the Catskill Park to capture a snapshot of the region before the Sullivan County casino development - $450,000;
We applaud and thank Governor Cuomo and Senators Seward and Amedore for their recent work supporting our Catskills community, in particular recent funding to develop a recreation plan that expands all the ways one can play in the Catskills. We look forward to working with the full legislature to continue to improve the Catskill Park for the benefit of all.
ABOUT THE CATSKILL CENTER FOR CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Our Mission: To protect and foster the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of the Catskill region. Guided by the foundational understanding that conservation creates opportunity, we are the major force advocating for the Catskill region. Since 1969, we have led the effort to protect the Catskill Park and Catskill Forest Preserve, while advancing local and regional economic development initiatives. Our interdisciplinary approach to protecting our ecosystems and creating vibrant communities encompasses four program areas – Arts & Culture, Education, Natural Resources, and Regional Planning.
Connect with us on social media @catskillcenter #catskillcenter
ABOUT THE CATSKILL PARK COALITION
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. The Catskill Park Coalition is co-chaired by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Catskill Park Coalition Members
Catskill Center (CO-CHAIR)
Catskill Mountainkeeper (CO-CHAIR)
Catskill Heritage Alliance
Catskill Mountain Club
Natural Resources Defense Council
Catskill 3500 Club
Adirondack Mountain Club
Catskill Association for Tourism Services
Catskill Mountain Foundation
Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce
Central Catskills Revitalization Corporation
Community Greenways Collaborative
Delaware Highlands Conservancy
Friends of the Catskill Interpretive Center
Friends of the Upper Delaware River
Hudson Valley Hikers
New York New Jersey Trail Conference
Open Space Institute
Parks and Trails New York
Rip Van Winkle Hikers
Shandaken Art Studio Tour
Theodore Gordon Flyfishers
Woodstock Land Conservancy
Zen Mountain Monastery