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Old Fort Niagara, Artpark among recipients
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $1.8 million in grants to support 28 not-for-profit organizations involved with stewardship of state parks, trails, historic sites and public lands, the highest amount awarded in the Park and Trail Partnership Grants program history. The grants support partner group efforts to raise private funds for capital projects, engage in maintenance and beautification projects, provide educational programming, and host special events that promote public use of the parks.
Hochul said, "We are proud to support the work of the incredible grassroots partner organizations that elevates the stewardship and programming of our state parks, historic sites, trails and public lands. With the largest investment in the Park and Trail Partnership Grants program history, New York state is sending a message that we are deeply committed to protecting and funding our public lands as we continue to embark on nation-leading climate resiliency initiatives."
The Park and Trail Partnership Grants program is funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund. Grants are administered in partnership with the not-for-profit advocacy group Parks & Trails New York. This eighth round of awards will be matched by over $625,000 in private funds. Recipients must raise outside funding of at least 10% of the grant amount received.
New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "State Parks is so fortunate to have incredible partners in Gov. Hochul, Parks & Trails New York, and the countless friends groups and volunteers who help ensure the success of our offerings to the public. I look forward to seeing how this historic investment of $1.8 million will help more New Yorkers access and connect with our phenomenal natural and historic resources."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "The natural beauty and character of New York's lands draws millions of visitors each year, and the support of our stewardship partners is critical to the ongoing needs to maintain and preserve these areas – as well as facilities like environmental education centers. Today's significant grant funding acknowledges the critical roles these partners play at DEC and other public resources, and we are grateful for Gov. Hochul's continued investments to help provide essential services to make the outdoors accessible for visitors to enjoy now and into the future."
Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Paul Steely White said, "These grants are like rich organic fertilizer for growing the grassroots movement to improve New York's parks, trails, historic sites and public lands. Accessible kayak launches, bridge repairs, strategic planning and youth education are just a few examples of the newly funded projects that will bring more nature and more joy to more New Yorkers."
Local awardees include:
√ Artpark & Company Inc., $100,000 to hire a director of education, interpretation and accessibility, who will organize year-round educational and outreach activities, establish new programming, and partner with State Parks on environmental education and outreach.
√ Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System, $68,000 to develop a multiyear strategic plan focusing on marketing, fundraising, and volunteer support to broaden the diversity of trail users and expand and strengthen partnerships.
√ Friends of Knox Farm State Park, $75,000 to renovate the Mansion Summer Estate – a unique wedding and events venue managed by The Friends.
√ Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve, $10,581 to build an enclosure that will protect and establish the native forest as well as to improve public access and education related to forest ecosystems.
√ IMPACT: Friends Improving Allegany County Trails, $7,396 to replace a 30-foot bridge to be built in partnership with Alfred State College and the DEC, and to install two trail counters for data collection on nearby trails.
√ Old Fort Niagara Association, $12,103 to create a rest stop for cyclists on the Niagara Greenway bike trail in Old Fort Niagara State Park.
A press release stated, “The fiscal year 2024 budget provides $2 million for the next round of Park and Trail Partnership grant funds, as part of a record $400 million Environmental Protection Fund to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improve agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protect our water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities for New Yorkers. In addition, the budget included $200 million for state parks for capital improvement projects. This substantial level of funding will aid the ongoing transformation of New York's flagship parks and support critical infrastructure projects throughout the park system.
“Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for New York's parks and trails, working with grassroots groups for 35 years to strengthen public-private partnerships and improve New Yorker's health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space. For more information, visit www.ptny.org.”