To the Editor:
Let’s Build a Modern Park – Please Support an Ongoing $4M Catskills Line in the EPF
The Catskill region deserves a modern Catskill Park that can meet the needs of our current visitors, our communities and growth in the future. For years the Catskill Center has advocated for equitable support from the State for the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve, as well as the larger Catskill region. Providing a vastly improved recreational experience for residents and visitors alike will improve the health of our public lands, our people and our economy.
We’ve had great successes, first in creating the Catskill Park Coalition with our Co-Chair Catskill Mountainkeeper along with many others to develop a stronger voice for the Catskills. Second in helping support our region’s Forest Rangers, to open the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper, and to garner ever increasing support for marketing the Catskill region. Most recently, during the 2015 legislative session we helped secure a $500,000 line item for the Catskills in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Aid to Localities” budget, a historic budget item for the region that should have shovels in the ground soon. We were instrumental in helping to bring Governor Cuomo to the Catskills to launch his Ride the Catskills campaign, announce $5 million in additional I Love NY marketing money for the region, and to announce his 2016 Catskills Challenge.
This year the Catskill Center and the Catskill Park Coalition requested support from our state representatives for a $300M budget for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), with $4M set aside for the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve for planning, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and community grants for Catskill towns. We were thrilled to see that the New York State Assembly included the $4M Catskill Park line in their Environmental Protection Fund budget proposal through the hard work of Catskill Park champions like Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. We have strong support in the New York State Senate from Senators James Seward, John Bonacic and George Amedore and from the Senate Democratic Conference. We know the Governor supports the Catskill region. Our hope during these final budget negotiations is the $4M line for the Catskill Park and for the communities of the Catskills is included in the final budget.
The Catskill Center strongly urges the Assembly, the Senate and the Governor to include the $4M Catskill Park line in the final EPF budget to support the Catskill region and build a modern park. Build on the momentum of the last several years in the Catskills and continue to build on New York’s proud and leading legacy of first in the nation conservation. Let’s build a modern Catskill Park!
Executive Director, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development