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Orange County Land Trust Awarded NYS Conservation Partnership Grant

March 15, 2011 | Orange County Land Trust | Middletown, NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Caroline Hamling
845-343-0840 | caroline@oclt.org

 

Grant Awarded for Study to Strengthen the Business of Farming in Orange County

 

MIDDLETOWN, NY-- The Orange County Land Trust was awarded a $7,000 New York State Conservation Partnership Program grant to work with Orange County Planning Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County and the Glynwood Center on a study to strengthen the business of farming in Orange County with a focus on farmland protection and the supply of locally produced foods to nearby urban and suburban markets.

At a press event held in Albany Monday, the national Land Trust Alliance and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), announced the awarding of 75 Conservation Partnership Program grants to 57 land trusts across New York State, totaling over $1.4 million.  

The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and administered by the Land Trust Alliance in coordination with the NYS DEC, will be matched by more than $1.82 million in private and local funding. The program, initiated in 2002, has helped local groups permanently conserve about 15,000 acres of farmland, wildlife habitat, recreation areas, and urban open space across New York State.


More than 150 land trust and environmental advocates attended this event, later meeting with their local legislators to lobby for support of the EPF in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2011-12 budget which he maintains at $134 million, the same as last year.


"The EPF and the Conservation Partnership Program are cost-effective investments that pay dividends for public health and New York's economy," said Rand Wentworth, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Land Trust Alliance. The nonprofit group represents 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. The groups have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years, Wentworth said.


"These grant dollars leverage investment that brings real results — clean water, places for kids to play, wildlife habitat, urban parks," Wentworth said. "Things that transform communities at a fraction of the price of large governmental programs."


Working with the Glynwood Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities save farming in the Northeast, Orange County Department of Planning and Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Orange County Land Trust will undertake four strategic and sequential organizational sessions during the first half of 2011, facilitated by professionals in the field of urban/suburban agriculture, to address agriculture development and land protection, as well as new funding strategies for farmland protection.

This study will also help build upon and help implement the Agriculture Economic Development Strategy, prepared by County planning staff and now approved by the Orange County Legislature.

“We need to further protect against the loss of farmland in Orange County and to investigate the potential of protecting farmland by strengthening the business of farming in our communities”, said Jim Delaune, Executive Director of the Orange County Land Trust.   

“We are truly a “breadbasket” region for millions of people,” he added.   “The basis for this cooperative study is how do the urban areas help us save Orange County’s open spaces and working farmlands?”

The New York City Council recently released a publication titled Foodworks: A Vision to Improve New York City’s Food System which referred to the Hudson Valley as NYC’s “foodshed” and recommended that farmland within this foodshed be protected to ensure a greater supply of fresh and healthy locally produced foods for NYC and the New York metropolitan area.

“We are delighted to be able to work with the Glynwood Center, the county and Cornell on this very important project which will explore the connections between our local farmers, land preservation and nearby urban and suburban food markets,” said Delaune. “This is a great partnership that will benefit our local farmers and our local economy,” he added.

The Glynwood Center, based in Cold Spring, NY, supports the needs of the farming community, working within the community to present opportunities available to farmers in order to save farming as a viable business in the Hudson Valley. The nonprofit has an on site working farm to demonstrate the economic viability of environmentally sustainable agriculture.

The Orange County Land Trust is the only county-wide land trust and to date has helped protect nearly 4,000 acres of land and working farms.  Working with landowners, the Land Trust’s area of expertise is preserving land through the placement of conservation easements, working with individual property owners and municipalities to secure funding for the purchase of development rights (PDR’s), accepting donations of land, and purchasing land for public access.  The Land Trust owns and manages ten nature preserves in Orange County, seven which are open to the public, free of charge, for hiking birding and other forms of passive recreation.  The Land Trust also works closely with Orange County Planning Department to plan and implement open space initiatives, and spearheaded the formation of the Orange County Open Space Alliance (OCOSA), an alliance of 20 area conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the county’s rural and agricultural heritage.

The goal of the joint New York State Conservation Partnership Program is to enable local nonprofit land trusts to increase the pace, improve the quality and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits for communities across the state.

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For more information, and for volunteer opportunities and membership benefits, contact the OCLT at (845) 343-0840 or online at www.oclt.org.  Become a fan of the Land Trust on Facebook for conservation news and information.

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