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$450K to Enhance Open Space Conservation in New York State

June 14, 2006 | Albany, NY

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ethan Winter
Land Trust Alliance

Albany, NY - The Land Trust Alliance joined the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise Sheehan, Senator Carl Marcellino, Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, other members of the New York State legislature, and land trust representatives today in announcing $450,000 in grants and technical assistance to 33 land trust organizations across New York State.  The funding represents the fourth round of grants provided by the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP), a pioneering public-private partnership designed to build strong local and regional open space programs and new land conservation partnerships in the state

At today’s announcement, the Land Trust Alliance announced the 2006 New York State Conservation Partnership Program matching grants.  The grants will be matched by $2.25 million in non-state funds and provide funding for 43 land trust projects representing all nine DEC Regions. 

Projects awarded state grants this year include:

  • Twenty Conservation Transactions Grants (total funding: $118,500) enabling land trusts to protect 3,931 acres of farmland, wildlife habitat, and community landscapes.  Projects will include ten land protection projects in the Hudson Valley as well as projects in Essex, Jefferson, Livingston, Monroe, Suffolk, Tompkins, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties.  To date, NYSCPP Conservation Transaction Grants have leveraged millions of dollars in private funds to permanently conserve 7,300 acres of open space across New York State.
  • Five Conservation Catalyst Grants (total funding: $68,150) and five Collaboration Grants (total funding: $37,000) to launch conservation initiatives and major collaborations amongst community-based trusts in western New York, Westchester County, and New York City.  These investments will result in protection of thousands of acres of prime farmland, key watershed lands, and community-based urban gardens.
  • Three Professional Development Grants (total funding: $110,000) to enhance staffing capacity for key land trust functions in organizational leadership, community outreach, land protection, and fundraising.  This year, Genesee Land Trust, Orange County Land Trust, and Winnakee Land Trust are the recipients of these highly competitive matching grants. To date, the Professional Development Grants have leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-state funding for 13 growing land trusts.  These investments transform understaffed land trusts into stable, strategically-focused organizations that can serve as highly competent partners and agents for land conservation in New York State.

“New York is leading the nation in efforts to conserve open space, and land trusts can play a vital role in protecting the important resources of communities across the State,” Governor George E. Pataki said.  “This grant program, unique in the country, underscores our commitment to working in partnership with non-profit conservation groups and local governments to preserve our natural resources, from farm and forest land, to wetlands, critical environmental areas and outdoor recreational facilities.”

DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan said, “An investment in preserving open space is an investment in protecting the quality of life for the citizens of New York State.  Under the Governor’s leadership, we are protecting more than 915,000 acres of precious open space and securing a healthy future for New York’s natural landscape.  By partnering with local land trust organizations, we help ensure that communities can provide residents with green spaces, natural areas, and a healthy environment.”

The New York State Conservation Partnership Program, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund, cost-effectively protects open space by leveraging private funding for conservation.  First funded at $250,000 in the 2002-03 budget and funded at $500,000 in the 2005-05 EPF, this program has provided a total of $1.2 million in land conservation and capacity-building grants, leveraging approximately $6 million in private matching funds in the past four years.  Since inception in 2002-2003, the New York State Conservation Partnership Program has awarded 130 competitive grants, helping to protect 7,300 acres of land, including priority lands identified in the New York State Open Space Plan.

State Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee said, “Open space preservation in communities across New York State is both environmentally and financially prudent.  A continued partnership between the Land Trust Alliance and the State will continue to yield success stories that further a growing tradition of land conservation.  Working together we will protect diverse and ecologically sound open spaces for future generations to enjoy.”

Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli (D-Great Neck), Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee said, “There are still great opportunities to conserve New York State’s open space and agricultural lands, but development pressure is mounting across the state.  The New York State Conservation Partnership Program has proven highly successful in supporting the efforts of land trusts across the state to safeguard these vital natural resources.”

Since 1995, Governor Pataki and the New York State Legislature have committed $13 billion to preserve and protect New York’s environment.  In his 2002 State of the State address, Governor Pataki outlined a goal of preserving an additional one million acres.  The State is on track to meet this ambitious goal through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program and other initiatives included in the $150 million Environmental Protection Fund for 2005-2006.

Lynn Schumann, Northeast Director for Land Trust Alliance applauded the State’s investment in land conservation:  “New York State has boldly challenged the nation to think more creatively about the meaning of public-private partnerships.  By investing a limited amount of State funding in private sector efforts to save land, New York has shown that its citizens will rally to provide the millions of dollars in private matching funds to save the places that define their communities.  Thanks to the grants announced today, New York residents will be able to enjoy 3,900 additional acres of protected farmland, community open space, and new nature preserves.  We are grateful to Governor Pataki, DEC Commissioner Sheehan, and the New York State Legislature for strong and sustained commitment to this program.”

The Conservation Partnership Program advances the goals of New York’s Open Space Plan by making grants to New York land trusts for four purposes:

Conservation Capacity & Excellence Grants provide up to $20,000 to help land enhance their ability to protect and steward land.  The majority of funded projects focus on the implementation of one or more of the Land Trust Standards & Practices, nationally accepted guidelines for the effective and ethical operation of a land trust.

Conservation Catalyst Grants provide up to $30,000 to enable land trusts to launch local and regional land protection initiatives that lead to the conservation of resources specifically identified in New York State’s Open Space Plan, in a local or regional open space plan, or in a local or regional farmland protection plan.

Professional Development Grants provide the seed funding needed to help all-volunteer and small land trusts increase the pace and quality and of their conservation programs.  Grants range from $20,000 to $50,000 and are intended to transform all-volunteer and small, under-staffed land trusts into sustainable, professionally-staffed organizations. 

Conservation Transaction Grants provide up to $20,000 for projects that enable land trusts to protect and steward environmentally significant lands in New York.  There is a particular emphasis on land protection priorities described in the New York State Open Space Plan.  Transaction grants are available to cover costs associated with purchasing or accepting a donation of fee land or a conservation easement, and costs associated with providing for public access on these properties.

All Conservation Partnership Program grants require a match of at least 1:1 in non-state funds.  Grant recipients receive technical assistance from Land Trust Alliance staff, which helps ensure the success of their funded projects.

Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Washington D.C., the Land Trust Alliance works directly with more than 1,200 land trusts nationwide, including 80+ New York land trusts representing 36,000 individual members.  Working with state and local governments, local, regional and national land trusts have protected over 990,000 acres of land in New York State and more than 34 million acres nationwide.

For additional information about the Land Trust Alliance and New York Conservation Partnership Program, please go to or contact Ethan Winter in the Land Trust Alliance Northeast Program Office in Saratoga Springs, NY at (518) 587-0774.

(View Detailed Summary, PDF)

  • Conservation Capacity & Excellence Grant Awards: $103,300 (15 grants)
  • Conservation Catalyst Grant Awards: $968,150 (5 grants)
  • Professional Development Grant Awards: $110,000 (3 grants)
  • Conservation Transaction Grant Awards: $118,550 (20 grants)
  • Technical Assistance for New York Land Trusts: $50,000
  • Program Administration (Land Trust Alliance): $50,000
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