NYSDEC awards funds to land trust programs

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation awarded $3.375 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants, the largest amount of funding for this program to date, for 51 not-for-profit land trusts across the state.

The announcement, made during New York State’s Earth Week celebration, includes 80 grants funded through New York’s Environmental Protection Fund and will leverage an additional $2.7 million in private and local funding to support projects that protect water quality and farmland, boost public access for outdoor recreation, and conserve open space.

The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“DEC is proud to partner with the Land Trust Alliance for this $3.3 million grant announcement, which supports land trusts across the state managing forests, conserving agricultural lands, restoring coastal and wetland areas, and bolstering essential projects in our fight against climate change,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Thanks to Governor Hochul and legislative leaders, the State’s record-high Environmental Protection Fund is making historic investments in local land trusts and community partners, sustaining their work to protect and preserve New York’s natural areas now and for future generations.”

Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders increased the New York’s Environmental Protection Fund to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history.

The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.

“The people of New York need and love open spaces for the many health, recreation, and economic benefits they provide,” said Meme Hanley, the Land Trust Alliance’s New York program manager. “These grants will leverage the strengths of the State’s land trust community to protect treasured local outdoor places and help provide important climate benefits. On behalf of the Land Trust Alliance, I applaud Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, and Commissioner Seggos for their work to ensure New Yorkers enjoy clean water, healthy food, outdoor recreation, and economic opportunity.”

The $3.375 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants, and $2.7 million in private and local funding, will increase the resilience of State lands to the changing climate and contribute to climate solutions by storing carbon.

Natural climate solutions will have a significant role in addressing risks associated with climate change. Since the Conservation Partnership Program’s inception in 2002, the program has awarded 1,077 grants totaling more than $25 million to 92 land trusts.

Cumulatively, the state’s investment has leveraged $26.5 million in additional funding from local and private sources.

The grant awards announced today range from $3,750 to $100,000.

Central New York — Total $102,223

Cazenovia Preservation Foundation: Capacity Grant $22,158; Transaction Grant $38,600

Finger Lakes Land Trust: Transaction Grant $32,000

New York Agricultural Land Trust: Capacity Grant $9,465

A detailed breakdown of these grants is available on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/48901.html.

This year’s grantees include 35 accredited land trusts that have secured independent verification that their work and operations meet high standards for land conservation, stewardship, and nonprofit management.

Accredited grantees include Adirondack Land Trust, Agricultural Stewardship Association, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, Champlain Area Trails, Columbia Land Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Dutchess Land Conservancy, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Genesee Land Trust, Genesee Valley Conservancy, Grassroots Gardens WNY, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Huyck Preserve and Biological Resource Station, Lake George Land Conservancy, Mianus River Gorge, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, Mohonk Preserve, North Salem Open Land Foundation, North Shore Land Alliance, Open Space Institute, Otsego Land Trust, Peconic Land Trust, Putnam County Land Trust, Rensselaer Land Trust, Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, Saratoga PLAN (Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature), The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Wallkill Valley Land Trust, Westchester Land Trust, Western New York Land Conservancy, and Woodstock Land Conservancy.

New York’s investment in land conservation and open space supports local businesses, saves taxpayer dollars, and protects public health. The Trust for Public Land found that every $1 invested by New York’s EPF generated $7 in total economic benefits from enhanced tourism, reduced government costs and improved public health.

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