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State budget and parks: a challenging year

The NYS budget that passed March 31 subjected all agencies, including the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to a 10% cut. While we're encouraged that State Parks wasn't singled out for disproportionate cuts this year as it has been for the past several years, we question how the agency will be able to absorb another $17 million decrease in operating funds and the lowest level of funding ever for capital projects. Entire parks may not close, but even more drastic service and operation cuts will need to be implemented. Service reductions are already in effect at 100 parks and historic sites.

The good news in the budget is that it provides $134 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Although this represents half the level of funding required by a 2007 law, it is a real win for parks and the environment: $16 million will go to state land stewardship, including state parks, and $13 million will be available for grants for municipal park and trail projects.

Closure averted for three of four threatened parks and historic sites

At the close of 2010, State Parks said it was closing three upstate parks and an historic site as a result of drastic state budget cuts. Three of these facilities will remain open under various management scenarios while the fate of the fourth is still unknown.

Herkimer Home gates to stay open

Two thumbs up to NYS legislators for securing money to keep the gates open at Herkimer Home State Historic Site...at least for this season. Praise is also due to the Friends of Herkimer Home who have committed themselves to a greater role as the primary caretaker of the site, which features the home and burial site of Revolutionary War hero General Nicholas Herkimer. Read more about the situation at Herkimer Home.

Municipalities step up to the plate

Hamburg and Lewiston have stepped up to take over management of Woodlawn Beach and Joseph Davis State Parks respectively. We're pleased that the parks will remain open and accessible to the public but vigilance is needed to protect park resources and the experience of park users. Already, a proposal for a hotel and conference center at Joseph Davis has park advocates worried.

And then there was one

Knox Farm State Park is the only one of the parks slated to close whose future is still uncertain. The Town of East Aurora and the Friends of Knox Farm have been working to figure out a way to keep open the facility, which is the former country estate of Buffalo's renowned Knox family.

5th Park Advocacy Day a success  

advocacy day 2011


Park advocates from around the state travelled to Albany on March 22 for the 5th annual Park Advocacy Day. At meetings with policymakers, park supporters stressed the importance of keeping New York's 213 parks and historic sites open, protected, and well funded and maintained and discussed the need to create a dedicated funding stream to revitalize our parks.

Read our talking points from the day.

Thank you park and historic site supporters! 


LWCF under attack - support needed NOW

As Congress continues to wrestle over the extent of reductions in federal spending for this year's budget, cuts proposed by the House would mean the elimination of 90% of current funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Of greatest importance to New York is the LWCF stateside program which funds matching grants to local governments for public outdoor recreation areas and facilities, including many local park and trail projects. Contact your Senators and Representatives today and let them know you support funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million, the maximum level authorized by Congress.

Senator Gillibrand focuses attention on Closing the Gaps in Canalway Trail through Syracuse

PTNY's "Close the Gaps" campaign took another major step forward when 70 local, county and state government officials, trail advocates, and civic and business leaders came together at a Syracuse forum organized by the office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in collaboration with Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation. The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways to find a safe and well-marked route for the Erie Canalway Trail between Camillus and Dewitt through the City of Syracuse. Presently, through-cyclists must negotiate Syracuse's heavily travelled urban streets.


At the meeting, Danielle Krol of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) announced that the SMTC has made $30,000 available to work with the community to investigate a preferred route.

PTNY thanks Senator Gillibrand and her staff for their continued support to "Close the Gaps."

PTNY Capacity Grant moves Brooklyn Greenway supporters to members

When the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) submitted its capacity grant proposal to PTNY, very few of the organization's 2500 e-newsletter subscribers were annual donors. This, despite the fact that they participated in events, tours, and workshops in connection with the group's efforts to create, maintain and promote a 14-mile greenway along Brooklyn's industrial waterfront.

"We knew that building a strong membership base would be essential to insuring the long-term success of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, but we needed dedicated funding to jump-start the process. The capacity grant from Parks & Trails New York was the perfect catalyst," said BGI Director of Programs Meg Fellerath.

BGI used its $2250 capacity grant to upgrade its website with a new membership page and to design and print an engaging and colorful promotional and membership brochure for the organization. The results have been impressive. In 2010, BGI added almost 1700 additional names to its newsletter list (an increase of 66%) and doubled its membership.

Two trail clean-ups planned in Kingston, a PTNY Healthy Trails, Healthy People community

trash on tracksTo commemorate the Second Annual Kingston Clean Sweep on Saturday, April 30, the Kingston Land Trust is planning to host a clean-up event for a section of the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad that has long been used as a dumping ground. The event will target a small area of a proposed 1.5-mile multi-use trail that will eventually connect the midtown area with Kingston Point. For more information, check out Friends of Historic Kingston website.

On National Trails Day, June 4, the Kingston Land Trust will host a second event to clean up the remainder of the former rail corridor. The events reflect a growing consensus in the Kingston community that the city could someday be the trail capital of the Hudson Valley.

Parks & Trails New York is working with the Kingston Land Trust to engage the community in exploring the feasibility of connecting existing rail trails outside the city to the mid-town area as part of our Healthy Trails Healthy People program.

State Parks Focus

Closing of L.I. state park pool tip of iceberg

The pool at popular Heckscher State Park on Long Island is closed indefinitely due to disrepair. This is just another drop in the bucket of the $1 billion backlog of state park and historic site capital needs. Our parks need more resources - it's time for a new dedicated funding stream for parks! Read why we support a bill to have a penny surcharge on plastic bags go to parks.

Kudos to state parks for green building award

The first platinum level LEED green building award for a public building in NYS goes to Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for Taconic region headquarters. Way to go State Parks!

Parks critical to wildlife

The New England Cottontail (vs. the Eastern Cottontail) is declining rapidly and may soon be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Recent studies show it still lives in Clarence Fahnestock State Park and Hudson Highlands State Park. State parks are important to wildlife as well as people!

Master Planning continues

The latest State Parks master planning project is Governor Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island Sound. The park features three miles of beach, glacier-formed bluffs, and heavily wooded rolling hills. In addition to swimming, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, and fishing, the park offers a 27-hole golf course.

Hudson Greenway grants available

The Hudson River Valley Greenway (HRVG) is accepting applications for several grant programs. Grants are available for designated "greenway communities," municipalities who develop and implement a regional compact strategy consistent with HRVG's Greenway Criteria and Greenway Act, and for launch and campsite owners to help implement the Hudson River Water Trail. Deadlines are May 6 and September 9, 2011.

New ruling increases trail opportunities for persons with mobility disabilities

Resources aid understanding of impact on trail operation

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued new rules affecting the use of wheel chairs and other power-driven mobility devices by persons with disabilities on many of the nation's trails. American Trails offers multiple resources to help trail managers better understand this change including a webinar, an extensive series of questions and answers, and policies and assessments adopted by trails across the country to meet these new regulations.

Canal Clean Sweep people: Bergmann Associates

Bergmann GroupEach year about 100 groups across the state organize clean-up and beautification events along the NYS Canal System and Canalway Trail as part of the Canal Clean Sweep sponsored by Parks & Trails New York, the NYS Canal Corporation and the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation. Most of these groups are service clubs, churches, municipalities, and other non-profit organizations. One exception is Bergmann Associates, a design and planning firm with offices in Rochester that has participated in the Clean Sweep for several years.

According to Michelle Sommerman, an engineer for Bergmann Associates and organizer of the company's Clean Sweep events, the firm takes part in the Clean Sweep because doing so is consistent with its core values of people, service, teamwork, and sustainability.


"We usually have around 20 people turn out for our event, including employee's family members and friends - even pets," said Sommerman. "I believe the people do this because they want to give back to the communities they work and live in...while also getting some fresh spring air and doughnuts!"


For more information on the 2011 Canal Clean Sweep April 15-17, contact Parks & Trails New York or visit www.ptny.org/canalway/sweep/.

Parks & Trails New York is a member of Earth Share of New York, an alliance of leading nonprofit environmental organizations. For more information about workplace giving via payroll deduction to Parks & Trails New York and Earth Share, check out www.earthshareny.org.

APRIL 2011





Celebrating 25 years of advocacy for New York's parks and trails

Your support makes all of this possible.

Thank you!

Rail and canal trails...for the birds!

Birding is one of the most popular forms of recreation in the country, with one in five people enjoying the activity. Multi-use trails are great places to bird since they pass through diverse habitats and provide multiple opportunities to see and hear a large number of species in a single outing.


With this in mind, PTNY developed a list of rail and canal trails especially good for birding. Visit one of our top picks or find one closer to you on the PTNY TrailFinder site. Read more



Save the date


Finger Lakes Regional Trail Conference

September 23 & 24, 2011

Cornell University, Ithaca


A Finger Lakes regional trail conference, organized by Parks & Trails New York and the Finger Lakes Land Trust, will be held September 23 and 24 at Cornell University in Ithaca.  The program will offer opportunities to experience a variety of trail projects, network with practitioners from multiple disciplines, participate in a dynamic mix of workshops, and develop a vision for a region-wide land and water trail network. For more information and to be placed on the mailing list, contact PTNY.


Heart of Green

Congrats to Hudson River Valley Greenway Land and Water Trails for winning the Daily Green's   2011 Heart of Green Award in best new trails category. 


Parks & Trails New York presents!

Martin Daley, PTNY project director, spoke about the economic benefits of trails at the Orange County Community Citizens Foundations' annual Placemaking Conference. This year's conference, held in Newburgh, NY, focused on the economic, social, and health benefits of trails, cycling, and walkable neighborhoods. Check out Martin's presentation, and others, here.




PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin and Bike Project Assistant Lauren Alpert facilitated a trail visioning workshop at a Columbia County Trails Conference organized by the Columbia Land Conservancy. PTNY was also a conference sponsor.

Legislation we support

We're advocating for federal and state bills that affect our trails and parks.


Read our 2011 Advocacy Agenda and memos of support:


Pennies for Parks 


Park Closure Notification and Justification 


Park Resident Curator Program 


Complete Streets 


Parkland alienation reform 


You can find out more about the status of the state bills by going to the Assembly and Senate bill search sites.  


Plan released for completing Champlain Canalway Trail

In late March, Hudson Crossing Park, Inc. released the Champlain Canalway Trail Action Plan for completing the 62-mile multi-use trail between Waterford and Whitehall in Saratoga and Washington Counties along the corridor of the present and historic Champlain Canal. Using text, maps and photos, the plan is designed to help focus and coordinate locally-based trail-building efforts along the proposed trail route.


A working group representing counties, municipalities, state agencies, and interested organizations (including PTNY) developed the plan with public input over about three years. When finished, the trail will connect with the Erie Canalway Trail. For more information, contact Marlene Bissell.

Get your guide to adventure for the Erie Canalway Trail

This Spring, discover adventure on the Erie Canalway Trail with the Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook. Loaded with info on attractions, historic sites, visitor centers and parks, the guidebook's detailed color maps are your key to warm-weather fun. Experience the bicycling and sightseeing opportunities waiting for you along the Erie Canalway Trail by ordering your copy today!

Ride with style

Ride with style in one of our Cycling the Erie Canal or Great Hudson Valley Pedal bicycle jerseys, the perfect complement to your sportive spirit!  Order before June 1 to ensure one in your size.  

NYSDOT remains supportive of state's inclusion in U.S. Bicycle Route System

A new state-by-state progress report for the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) states New York is interested in implementing USBRS 30 using the Canalway Trail System and will coordinate efforts with Pennsylvania's state route network. NYSDOT has yet to make a decision regarding route signing. Thirty states are presently working to implement U.S. Bike Routes for cycling transportation, recreation, and tourism.

Exciting ideas for trail programming

Check out some great ideas for encouraging year-round trail usage by persons of all ages and abilities, especially non-traditional trail users, in a new report by Michigan's Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. Learn how trail managers used programs and events with catchy titles such as Snowflake Safari, Mutt Strutters, Pedal to the Past, Tales on the Trail, Mascot Day and Fall Color Cruise to get more people out on the trail, especially seniors and low-income families and children.

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Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for the expansion, protection, and promotion of a network of parks, bike paths, greenways and rail and canal trails across the state.

 29 Elk St. Albany, NY 12207
(ph) 518-894-2195,  (fax) 427-0067