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New York State Renews Major Investment in Land Trusts

April 6, 2009 | Albany, NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

               
Contact:
  Ethan Winter, New York Conservation Manager  
(518) 587-0774 | ewinter@lta.org       

 

NEW YORK STATE RENEWS MAJOR INVESTMENT IN LAND TRUSTS

Open space and farmland protection secured

Albany, NY  — Governor David Paterson and the New York State Legislature late Friday approved a 2009-2010 Fiscal Year State Budget that includes $222 million for the Environmental Protection Fund and $1.575 million for the New York State Conservation Partnership Program.  In addition, the 2009-10 Environmental Protection Fund will include $60 million for state open space land acquisition and $23 million for farmland protection.

The Conservation Partnership Program is a state-funded, land trust capacity-building program administered by the Land Trust Alliance in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  Through this public-private partnership, local and regional nonprofit land conservation groups have protected thousands of acres of farmland, natural areas and urban gardens – lands that are vital to public health and the state’s agriculture and tourism industry.

“We applaud the Legislature and Governor Paterson for having the vision to invest in New York’s community-based land trust organizations, which serve the citizens across the state,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance, based in Washington, D.C.  “By investing in the Environmental Protection Fund, more communities will have clean air and water, fresh food, natural beauty and places to play.  In such challenging economic times, this is a wise investment in New York’s future.” 

John Halsey, president of Peconic Land Trust and co-chair of the Alliance’s New York Advisory Board said, “This funding demonstrates New York state’s commitment to furthering the important work of private conservation organizations that protect working farms and open space, often in concert with various levels of government.”  Halsey added, “The Conservation Partnership Program enables the Peconic Land Trust and other land trust organizations to help landowners and public partners permanently protect Long Island’s local aquifers, estuaries, working farms and natural lands for our communities.  Now more than ever, we must work collaboratively to conserve New York’s environment and agricultural resources.” 

Becky Thornton, president of Dutchess Land Conservancy and co-chair of the Alliance’s New York Advisory Board, also praised the announcement. “We wish to especially acknowledge Senator Antoine Thompson (Buffalo) and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (Lindenhurst), the Senate and Assembly chairmen of the Environmental Conservation Committee, for their efforts to preserve the Environmental Protection Fund,” Thornton said. “Thanks to their leadership, the Conservation Partnership Program will continue to be a national model for capacity building and land trust excellence.  We and our partner organizations are very excited about the opportunities this funding will provide to keep the magnificent Hudson Valley landscape intact.”

The New York State Conservation Partnership Program is funded through an annual appropriation from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).  It provides technical assistance and competitive grants to New York’s 90 land trusts, and is a popular funding source for open space conservation in communities around the state, from Harlem to the Adirondacks. 

First funded at $250,000 in the 2002-03 EPF budget, the Alliance’s Conservation Partnership Program has since matured into a nationally recognized model for land trust capacity building. Through the program, the Alliance has awarded more than 200 grants totaling $2,425,000 to over 60 local groups, including Long Island’s North Shore Land Alliance, Bronx Land Trust, Hudson Highlands Land Trust and Western New York Land Conservancy.  These community-based organizations work with local and state government partners and willing landowners to preserve areas identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, New York’s Wildlife Action Plan, and other local and regional strategic conservation plans.  As important, these investments are transforming the capacity and reach of the New York land trust community, helping these organizations be even more effective in implementing best business practices.

New York state has 90 local and regional land trusts, ranking fifth in the nation.  These community-based nonprofit land conservation organizations have conserved more than 625,000 acres, the sixth highest state total.  National organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land have permanently protected an additional 1,100,000 acres in New York.  New York state is also a national leader with seven land trusts accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of Land Trust Alliance.

Antoine M. Thompson, NYS Senator, 60th Districtne-thompson-lobbyday (Parts of Erie & Niagara Counties) and Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee addresses more than 50 leaders in the NY land trust community at the Land Trust Alliance’s annual NY Land Trust Lobby Day in Albany. Photo courtesy of Katelyn Homeyer.

About the Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance is a national conservation group that works on behalf of America’s 1,700 land trusts to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America.  The Alliance works to increase the pace and quality of conservation by advocating favorable tax policies, training land trusts in best practices and working to ensure the permanence of conservation in the face of continuing threats. For additional information about the Land Trust Alliance or the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, please visit www.landtrustalliance.org or contact Ethan Winter, New York conservation manager at the Land Trust Alliance, at (518) 587-0774.

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