Our Advocacy Priorities

Martin House External View 2021

New York has one of the largest and most diverse state park systems in the nation and more than a decade of necessary reinvestment has generated record visitation to our public lands, contributing nearly $5 billion to the state’s economy and creating 54,000 jobsNow, the state needs to continue its commitment to our public lands, while providing the park system with the resources to manage increased usage. For Parks & Trails New York, this means a renewed dedication to our mission; not only for state parks and historic sites, but green spaces of all kinds, including in neighborhoods across our state.

Our Vision

  • Ensure New York’s State Parks system is amply funded to guarantee it is protected and revitalized for future generations
  • Secure long-term funding for grant opportunities that are made available for grassroots volunteer organizations to advance necessary projects and programs at their sites
  • Provide all New Yorkers the opportunity to access open space in their communities
  • Preserve and steward open spaces for future generations to enjoy
Learn More about our Priorities 

2023 Active Priorities

Secure $250 million in capital funding for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Since 2010, more than $1 billion in capital funding has been dedicated for upgrades to New York’s world-class state parks system.  Every dollar invested in state parks generates $5 of economic activity. Building on the state’s investments over the past decade is critical to ensure the continued revitalization of these essential resources. In 2022, nearly 80 million visitors appreciated our state's parks and historic sites- a 43% increase over the last decade.  We need to insure our facilities are welcoming and accessible for all New Yorkers. 

Increase State Parks’ agency staffing by 237 FTEs to ensure increased visitation needs are met

Visitation at State Parks has increased drastically over the past decade, but OPRHP’s staffing levels have not risen accordingly. Increased state park operations funding will help correct this imbalance, ensuring that staff can direct strategic funds in a timely manner and that all visitors continue to have access to safe outdoor places for recreation and respite.

Sustain the Park and Trail Partnership Grants at $2 million

This competitive grant program within the EPF supports projects that strengthen non-profit grassroots organizations; enhance public access, stewardship and recreational opportunities; and address barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion at our state parks, historic sites, trails, and public lands across New York. In the first 7 rounds of this program, 167 awards totaling $4.2 million have been provided to New York's Friends groups.  These funds have leveraged more than $2 million in private funds. 

2023 Coalition Priorities

Ensure full and sustainable funding of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)

A $400 million appropriation for the EPF will continue New York’s historic investments in addressing environmental needs, including providing resources to environmental justice organizations, conserving land and water, creating new parks and recreation opportunities, and supporting climate adaptation and mitigation projects.

Maintain the Connect Kids to Parks Grant Program at $3 million

The Connect Kids to Parks Grant program provides students, especially youth from Title 1 communities, with access to nature and history via field trips to state and federal parks, forests, historic sites, and other outdoor recreation areas.

Increase funding for the Parks, Preservation and Heritage Program

The Parks, Preservation and Heritage Program (Municipal Parks) provides matching grants to projects that plan, acquire, and develop municipal parks and recreational facilities in cities, with a requirement that nearly 40% of funding be directed toward Environmental Justice communities.

Supporting Issues 

Facilitate a more rigorous process for the taking of parkland, or park “alienation”

Expedite the passage of legislation that creates a more stringent process for park alienation that holds the government accountable and provides transparency, specifically as it relates to the acquisition of replacement land, adequate monitoring, and enforcement of approved projects.

Galvanize community stewardship of parks and historic sites by simplifying requirements for volunteers working on state lands

Support the creation of a standard, universal form for volunteers working on state lands and remove complicated permitting processes, including requirements that long-term volunteers register each year and pay fees for volunteer registration.

Encourage green energy projects at parks while protecting natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities

Support actions that expedite the siting of in-park, small, green energy facilities, where appropriate, that will help to make parks energy self-sufficient, offset the carbon imprint of parks and park users, and adaptively reuse for such purposes existing paved and built upon areas. Make sure there are adequate protections to prevent such facilities from impairing the visual quality of any park or its natural resources, or reducing its use for outdoor recreation.