The state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced $500,000 in grants are now available to help organizations to improve state parks, trails and historic sites. The grants are available to Friends Groups of State Parks. The program will be administered by State Parks and Parks & Trails New York.
"Across New York state, our Friends Groups and volunteers regularly roll up their sleeves and make our park system a success," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "I applaud Gov. Cuomo for getting behind this innovative strategy to equip these committed groups with the tools to do even more, and I thank Parks & Trails New York for its work to make it happen."
"The state's landmark investment in grassroots Friends Groups will reap large benefits, enabling groups to leverage more private and federal funding, marshal more volunteer power, and augment the state's historic investment in parks," PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin said. "PTNY looks forward to working with State Parks and Friends Groups on this transformative opportunity."
The program is designed to:
•Enhance the preservation, stewardship, interpretation, maintenance and promotion of New York State parks, trails and state historic sites;
•Increase the sustainability, effectiveness, productivity, volunteerism and fundraising capabilities of not-for-profit organizations that promote, maintain and support New York parks, trails and state historic sites; and
•Promote the tourism and economic development benefits of outdoor recreation through the growth and expansion of a connected statewide network of parks, trails and greenways.
Applications are due Dec. 4. Grant awards are expected to be announced in March 2016. The Park and Trail Partnership Program is open to recognized Friends organizations whose primary mission is the preservation, stewardship, interpretation, maintenance and promotion of a specific New York park, trail or historic site (or multiple such sites) under the jurisdiction of State Parks. More information about the grant program and its timeline are available at http://ptny.org/our-work/support/park-trail-partnership-program.
Cuomo proposed the grant program as part of his 2015 opportunity agenda. Funding is provided by the Environmental Protection Fund. The 2015-16 state budget includes $177 million for the EPF, an increase of 32 percent since Cuomo took office.
In addition, Cuomo launched "I Love My Park" Day, an annual volunteer day on the first Saturday of each May to improve and enhance New York's parks and historic sites. For the fourth annual event last spring, 6,500 volunteers took part in over 200 cleanup, improvement and beautification projects at 95 state parks and historic sites, contributing 16,000 hours of volunteer service.