Hello Friends -
Welcome to the Fall 2009 edition of Parks & Trails New York's You Gotta Have Friends, a newsletter for friends of New York's parks and historic sites. This quarterly newsletter is a tool to help us all be more effective advocates for New York's amazing park system.
The Governor's deficit reduction plan is hitting parks hard. 
Please help parks by speaking out today! You can make a difference. 
Thank you for all you do for New York's parks and trails. 
Robin Dropkin  
Executive Director
State Parks treatened by budget cuts
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has been told to cut an additional 10% - nearly $7 million - from its current-year budget for non-personal services.  This is part of yet another round of across-the-board cuts being ordered by Governor Paterson for all state agencies without taking into account the economic benefits some agencies bring to the state and local economies.

Given that the vast majority of OPRHP's operations occur during the peak summer tourist season, the agency has already spent the lion's share of its operating budget.  This leaves only one option for OPRHP--to close state parks and historic sites. 

This most recent reduction would bring the total cuts that OPRHP has sustained this past year to almost 25%.  All of this is occurring despite the fact that a recent Parks & Trails New York report revealed that the state park system accounts for nearly $2 billion each year in economic benefits for the state and local economies and creates 20,000 jobs - exclusive of state park employees.

In these challenging economic times the Governor should be looking for ways to bolster OPRHP's ability to fulfill its mission, not looking to cut the agency to the point where the only option is closing state park facilities.  Once they are closed, they will be closed for years, if not forever.

Contact the Governor TODAY and let him know that cutting state parks is a bad idea for the people of New York and the state's economy.
Speak out for parks in FY10-11 budget

As we are now in the heart of the budget development season, it is imperative that the Governor, State Senators and Assembly members hear from their constituents about the benefits the state park system provides, not only from a recreation and quality of life perspective, but also from an economic perspective.  It is the economic argument for state parks that is our best hope of achieving a level of funding for OPRHP that will prevent park closures and allow the agency to continue its capital projects revitalization.

Each year our state park system provides nearly $2 billion in economic stimulus for the state and local economies - a 5 to 1 return on investment.
Call or email the Governor and your state Senator and Assembly member TODAY! They ultimately decide the level of funding.  Tell them our parks need sufficient money for capital needs and operations and remind them of the economic importance of our state park system.
Your call, email or letter can make a big impact!
Pressure builds to drill in Allegany 
The frenzy to explore the gas-rich Marcellus shale in western New York has reached Allegany State Park.  U.S. Energy, a developer of natural gas and oil wells, has asserted claims to leases for the subsurface mineral rights to some 3,000 acres of the park.  This scenario comes about as a result of the state purchasing only the surface rights for much of what is now Allegany State park, leaving the subsurface mineral rights in the hands of private interests.

The area of the park where U.S. Energy proposes to drill five exploratory wells is as close to wilderness as can be found in New York State outside the Adirondacks and even includes some old-growth forest.  Any drilling would likely be done through a process known as hydraulic fracturing (hydro-fracking) and would  require cutting trees for access roads, clearing acres of land for drill pads and trucking water and chemicals used in the hydro-fracking process - a mixture that would then need to be recovered from the wells, moved off-site and treated.
Parks & Trails New York has joined with other environmental organizations in opposing the drilling. We are pursuing both statutory and regulatory approaches to protecting the park.  We have met and are continuing to meet with State Parks, the Department of Environmental Conservation and several legislative offices to find a way to prevent any drilling from occurring in Allegany State Park. 
Old Croton Aqueduct - 5th Aquefest a great success
The Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct held their 5th Annual Aquefest in Yonkers on Saturday, October 3 and in Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson on Sunday October 4th. 
More than 800 people biked, hiked, jogged or strolled to one of the "celebration stations" on the Aqueduct trail for an afternoon of local music, dance, Aqueduct art, history and awareness about the Old Croton Aqueduct.
Old Croton AqueductWith the help of more than thirty volunteers, Aquefest is first and foremost about "friend raising" - raising awareness for a beloved Historic State Park and national Historic Landmark.  The primary goal this year was the promotion of the campaign for the restoration of the Keepers' House as a visitor and education center. 
Friends of Johnson Hall receives New York Council for the Humanities Grant
Friends of Johnson Hall State Historic Site received a host site grant for "Reading Between the Lines," a themed reading program through the New York Council for the Humanities. The grant funds a professional facilitator and provides 15 copies of each of four books for "check-out" and return.

Johnson Hall staff chose the Council for the Humanities' theme "Travel and Tourism Narratives of the Empire State," as a complementary focus to this year's Western Frontier Symposium, "Moving Frontiers - Early Transportation in the Mohawk Valley."  This NYCH series illuminates the varied purposes and meanings of travel from New York's Dutch Colonial period to the modern day, using travel as a means to explore the state's geographical diversity.

More info: Wanda Burch at 518-762-8712 or Alessa Wylie at 518-843-0300
Historic schoolhouse opens in Thacher
On July 11, Thacher State Park had a ceremony to celebrate the restoration and opening of Knox Schoolhouse #5, an old, one-room school within the park.  Among those gathered for the opening were two former students of the school.
Park Manager Chris Fallon gave a synopsis of how the project was brought to fruition under the leadership of Friends of Thacher Park board trustee Dan Driscoll. The day featured a tour of the schoolhouse and the unveiling of new interpretive panels.
"You have to see the inside to believe it.  Everything is beautiful!" said John Kilroy, President of the Friends of Thacher Park. "The floors are brand new (almost a shame to walk on them), the desks that were in disrepair were disassembled and reassembled and left unfinished. This way, student carvings, most from the 1920's could be seen clearly." 
Thacher Park is well known as a place to explore the state's natural history but thanks to Dan Driscoll and his hardworking crew visitors can now have an authentic look at local history as well.
Genesee Valley Greenway featured in
tourism guides

The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway (FOGVG) worked with Livingston County Tourism staff to include a section of the Greenway as one of many hiking/biking routes included in a unique collaboration of the 14 Finger Lakes counties. 
Go to the tourism website  to download maps for 66 different routes or order sets of Let's Go Hike and Bike cards that include 6 to 46 of these routes.  The sets of cards are also available at any of the Chamber of Commerce/Tourism Offices in the Finger Lakes area. 
FOGVG  is a partner with OPRHP and State Parks and 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.
Walkway Over the Hudson celebrates grand opening
State Parks unveiled the newest addition to the New York State Park System with the October 3rd grand opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. 
The Walkway is a refurbished railroad bridge that stretches from the City of Poughkeepsie on the east bank of the Hudson River to the Town of Lloyd on the river's western shore.  
It's estimated that 40,000 people turned out for three days of celebration and ceremonies which were the culmination of years of planning and hard work to make the Walkway a reality.

Fall 2009

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Grants available from PTNY for park & trail groups
Aim is to boost organizational capacity
Parks & Trails New York is offering a new round of Capacity Building Grants for NYS park and trail groups.The grants, up to $3,000, will help non-profit organizations that are working to build and protect parks and trails in communities across the state. 
Deadline for applying:11/20/09.

More info: grants@ptny.org 
Another grant opportunity for friends groups
The National Environmental Education Foundation is awarding ten grants of $1,000 each to friends groups to help them better serve their local public lands. Deadline: 12/1/09. Learn more and apply
New on-line guide to multi-use trails in NYS
Visit TrailFinder
Parks & Trails New York has launched a new on-line guide to multi-use trails in New York State, several of which are state parks. TrailFinder includes 110 trails, totaling more than 1200 miles. Check it out!
State Parks Conservation Corps - 200
young people put to work
Although not eligible for federal stimulus funds for capital improvements, State Parks has been able to access more than $3.3 million in stimulus funds through the state Dept. of Labor to establish a Parks Conservation Corps. The Corps is comprised of 200 young people who will receive training in a variety of green jobs and work at 25 state parks and historic sites.  
The program is a partnership with the Student Conservation Association, an organization with a long history of operating youth conservation corps and green collar training programs. 
A click is all it takes - earn dollars for State Park trails 
Organic food manufacturer Cascadian Farms is donating $15,000 to the New York State Park System for trail maintenance and promotion, but you can help raise that amount to a maximum of $25,000 by just visiting the special website and entering a few lines about why you love New York State Park trails. For every entry, Cascadian Farms will donate an additional dollar.
State parks website lookin' good! 

Check out the upgraded state parks website, with lots of new content about what visitors can expect to find at parks and historic sites.

Visit us! 

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