Hello Friends -
 
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Parks & Trails New York's You Gotta Have Friends, a newsletter for friends of New York's State Parks and Historic Sites.

We envision this quarterly newsletter as a tool to help us all be more effective advocates for New York's magnificent State Park System.  We view it as a way for Friends organizations to learn what other groups are doing, and to share success stories and challenges they are facing.  We will also bring you news from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and the state Capitol.
NEWS FROM PARKS & TRAILS NEW YORK

State Park System  gives back five times state investment   

Study reveals annual economic impact close to $2 billion, plus 20,000 jobs

An economic analysis released by Parks & Trails New York in March of this year shows that the New York State Park System is an enormously valuable economic asset to the Empire State.  It supports up to $1.94 billion in output and sales for private businesses, plus 20,000 jobs.

The analysis also demonstrates that the economic benefits exceed the direct costs of operating and maintaining the State Park System many times over.  The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than five to one - that's more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.
 
This report clearly demonstrates the value of our state parks and historic sites and is a core argument for continued funding for OPRHP operations and the revitalization of our state parks system. Read the executive summaryRead the full report.   Read editorials about the report

Budget crisis means cuts in hours and services across the State Park System 

The state's fiscal crisis has impacted every facet of state government, and OPRHP is no exception.  The agency, faced with a 15% reduction in operating funds, has been forced to shorten operating seasons and reduce hours at 100 of the state's 213 parks and historic sites.  It remains unclear if OPRHP will be forced to make staff cuts, but a hiring freeze for all state agencies remains in place.
 
 The fiscal crisis is also impacting the capital side of OPRHP's budget for this fiscal year.  Despite so many Friends members helping Parks & Trails New York advocate for a second installment of $100 million in capital funding for OPRHP, including generating over 4,000 postcards to Governor Paterson through our Postcards for Parks campaign, the state's fiscal crisis is too severe to allow for a second installment of capital funding at the historic level we saw in fiscal year 2008-2009.  The news, however, is not all bad; OPRHP's budget includes a total of $81 million in capital funding, $19 million of which is new bonded capital.  While not the $100 million we were all hoping for, it is enough funding to enable OPRHP to continue its forward momentum in the capital revitalization of the state park system.  Read more.
Need for advocacy on behalf of our State Parks System 
Friends organizations have played an important role in advocating for more much needed capital and operational funding for OPRHP.  This advocacy has taken many forms, including sign-on letters to the Governor and Legislature, participating in Parks & Trails New York's Advocacy Days and Postcards for Parks Campaign, and making phone calls to elected leaders.  Over the past two years our collective advocacy has helped secure a total of more than $200 million in capital funding for OPRHP.  This includes the historic infusion of $132 million in capital funds in fiscal year 2008-2009.
 
Now, with the state facing unprecedented economic challenges, it is more important than ever for Friends to advocate not only for their site, but also on behalf of the entire State Park System. 
 
Believe it or not, development of next year's state budget will begin in just a few short months. Parks & Trails New York will help Friends organizations with their advocacy efforts by drafting sign-on letters and action alerts when the need arises.   There really is no substitute for our message being delivered to key decision makers by as many groups and individuals as possible.  This will be particularly important during the state's budget making process and when key pieces of legislation are pending.
 
NEWS FROM FRIENDS GROUPS
Friends of Fahnestock & Hudson Highlands 
 
Over 200 people attended the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks (FoFHH) picnic on May 16.  Visitors from Long Island, New York City, Westchester County, and New Jersey joined area residents and state parks representatives and commissioners for an afternoon of enjoying the park and meeting other people who are passionate about supporting local state parks.
 
Guest speakers included OPRHP Commissioner Carol Ash; Lucy Waletzky, M.D., Chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Congressman John Hall of New York's 19th Congressional District.  Together they pointed out the difficult financial times we are currently experiencing and the great need for organizations such as FoFHH.
 
Commissioner Ash pointed out the need to revitalize our parks as they have fallen into disrepair, and said that while it is important to continue to expand our park property; it is her goal to ensure a stable foundation and clean, solid, working infrastructure.  Dr. Waletzky commented on how many organizations utilize Fahnestock State Park.
 
Congressman Hall spoke of how vital Fahnestock State Park is to the area's economy, bringing people not only from New York City but from outside the state to experience the Hudson Valley.  He touched on the environmental aspects of Fahnestock State Park and how with over 20,000 acres of forest and woodlands, Fahnestock plays a vital role in the region's ecosystem, extending the forest matrix from Massachusetts through New York into New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
 
Jane Daniels, President of FoFHH, complimented the group, saying, "I am delighted with the way our varied constituencies have worked together to put on this event, and we look forward to working with the parks to improve the facilities and recreational opportunities available to all of the people who come to the parks." 
 
Fahnestock State Park is a 14,000 acre park located in Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Hudson Highlands State Park is 6,000 acres of largely undeveloped preserve running from Westchester to Dutchess Counties.
Friends of Lorenzo host 3rd annual Road Rally 
 
On June 13, the Friends of Lorenzo hosted its third Road Rally fundraiser. This event is held every two years with the start and end points at the Lorenzo State Historic Site. The course covers portions of the Cherry Valley Turnpike and other historic byways in Madison County.
 
This year, an ability to interpret local artists' perspectives on Madison County landscapes gave participants a competitive edge.  Each group reviewed ten paintings depicting surrounding scenery and then - after a mass start - headed off to seek each locale rendered.
 
The net proceeds contribute toward many initiatives at Lorenzo including cultural events such as the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra concert held on-site each July as well as the Lorenzo Driving Competition. Funding raised by the Friends of Lorenzo also supports educational initiatives such as the Rippleton Schoolhouse Community Day and the Living History program. The beautiful gardens surrounding the mansion, the significant collections and furnishings, and well-informed and trained docents also benefit from contributions made by the Friends.
 
The Lorenzo masion, former home of John Lincklaen, an agent for the Holland Land Company, is located in Cazenovia.

Friends of Rockland Lake and Hook Mountain unveil historic marker

About 50 people attended the unveiling of an historic marker established at Rockland Lake State Park by the Friends of Rockland Lake and Hook Mountain in collaboration with The Historical Society of Rockland County.  The marker commemorates the vast history of the area beginning in the 17th Century, when the Dutch used Hook Mountain as a maritime landmark on the Hudson River, to the ice harvesting industry on Rockland Lake and rock mining on the Palisades Cliffs.  The Lake and the Cliffs were later preserved by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and opened as State Parks. 
 
Robert Maher, President of The Friends, welcomed the guests and spoke of the importance of preserving the history of the area.   State Senator Thomas Morahan and Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack made remarks along with Jim Hall, President of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and Bob Knight, Clarkstown Town Historian. Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature Harriett Cornell also spoke and read a letter of congratulations sent by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Dennis Coyle, Founder of Coyle Insurance in Congers, helped Regina Rodwell-Bell, Vice President of the Friends, unveil the Historic Marker.  
 
Rockland Lake State Park is located in Rockland County on the west bank of the Hudson River.
Friends of Genesee Valley Greenway dedicate new Greenway bridges 
  
On National Trails Day, June 6, 2009, the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (FOGVG) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for three new Greenway bridges in Allegany County.  The ceremony was held south of Belfast, New York and was followed by a two mile hike on the Greenway to Rockville Lake.
  
The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway is a partner with OPRHP and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in the development and maintenance of the Genesee Valley Greenway, a 90 mile multi-use trail that follows the path of the former Genesee Valley Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad, passing through five counties, several villages and 17 townships from Rochester to Hinsdale.
Friends of Schuyler Mansion fundraiser honors former treasurer

The Friends of Schuyler Mansion (FOSM) hosted a Memorial fundraiser in honor of their long-serving treasurer and former Albany City Historian, the late Virginia B. Bowers.  The fundraiser included a presentation by Stuart Lehman, a state capitol historian and education coordinator for the NYS Office of General Services, and FOSM Board member.  
 
Mr. Lehman gave a timely presentation on the "Light on the Past", about the Great Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909 and its legacy as part of New York's Quadricentennial activities. 
 
The proceeds from individual and corporate donations will be used to begin a major refurbishing of the mansion's Blue Room, also known as the Alexander Hamilton Room.
 
Schuyler Mansion, home to Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler, is located in Albany.
Need for advocacy on behalf of our State Park System 
 
Friends organizations have played an important role in advocating for more much needed capital and operational funding for OPRHP.  This advocacy has taken many forms, including sign-on letters to the Governor and Legislature, participating in Parks & Trails New York's Advocacy Days and Postcards for Parks Campaign, and making phone calls to elected leaders.  Over the past two years our collective advocacy has helped secure a total of more than $200 million in capital funding for OPRHP.  This includes the historic infusion of $132 million in capital funds in fiscal year 2008-2009.
 
Now, with the state facing unprecedented economic challenges, it is more important than ever for Friends to advocate not only for their site, but also on behalf of the entire State Park System. 
 
Believe it or not, development of next year's state budget will begin in just a few short months. Parks & Trails New York will help Friends organizations with their advocacy efforts by drafting sign-on letters and action alerts when the need arises.   There really is no substitute for our message being delivered to key decision makers by as many groups and individuals as possible.  This will be particularly important during the state's budget making process and when key pieces of legislation are pending.

Summer 2009

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Thank You

Thank you to everyone who submitted articles for this edition of You Gotta Have Friends.
 
For those who haven't submitted an article please consider doing so.  We would love to share your stories with other Friends organizations.
 
We'd like to hear from all the Friends groups.  Tell us about your events, your activities and your successes and challenges.
 
Feedback? Story ideas? E-mail us at tsweeney@ptny.org 
NEWS AT STATE PARKS
 
Going Green
 
 
Kudos to OPRHP for its recently updated sustainability initiative, which strives to protect the environment, reduce energy consumption and save money.
 
Among the initiative's highlights are plans to reduce the amount of mowed parkland - resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and significant savings on the purchase of gasoline and diesel fuel, and reducing the use of pesticides where children are most often present, including the beaches playgrounds and picnic areas.

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