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Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)

scenic of ZOAR Valley showing trees and river
76 acres were added in 2012 to the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area,
one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse areas in Western NY

New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is a source of funding for capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities. Capital projects are usually large projects that purchase land or construct facilities. Most projects that receive grants of EPF money combine it with other funding sources that require matching funds.

Some examples of projects using EPF money are:

  • Purchasing land for the NYS Forest Preserve
  • Restoring historic sites
  • Conserving farmland
  • Restoring habitat
  • Controlling invasive species
  • Upgrading municipal sewage treatment plants
  • Cleaning up waterfront property and creating a public park
  • Helping business develop ways to recycle material

Kids learning to become environmental stewards at
one of DEC's environmental education camps

The EPF also supports the stewardship of public lands, including state parks and millions of acres of public lands throughout the state. Through partnerships with volunteer organizations, state agencies use stewardship funding to manage trails and lands, protect natural resources, preserve wildlife habitats, make critical capital improvements at parks and campgrounds, educate students about conservation and provide access to persons with disabilities.

Read the EPF 20th Anniversary Report (PDF) to learn about all the great projects that have been accomplished using this dedicated funding.

History

Created by the state legislature in 1993, the Environmental Protection Fund is financed primarily through a dedicated portion of real estate transfer taxes. The EPF has gradually grown from its original appropriation of $31 million in fiscal year 1994-1995. Over the past 20 years, the EPF has provided more than $2.7 billion for a variety of environmental projects. As a trust fund created in state law, these resources must be kept separate from other state monies.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recognized the 20th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Fund in a Governor's press release stating "Smart EPF investments in communities across the state are protecting New York's air, land, water and natural resources, helping to expand recreation opportunities that attract tens of millions of visitors each year and promote economic development."

The Process

Each year, during the budget negotiations, the legislature and governor negotiate the level of funding that will go into the EPF and assign amounts to specific categories within three accounts:

  • Open Space
  • Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Solid Waste

Stream restoration projects are eligible for Water
Quality Improvement Project grants funded by the EPF

Each category has legislatively designated uses per Section 92-S of the State Finance Law, described in detail in Article 54 of State Environmental Conservation Law. Additionally, some purposes are authorized in other sections of state law (i.e.; the Farmland Protection Program), as well as spending authorizations included in year-to-year budget appropriations. Projects selected to receive resources are chosen based on a number of variable criteria, depending on the category.

Several New York State agencies administer the funds and award grants to eligible state-led projects, or to partnerships, either between state agencies and municipalities or between state agencies and nonprofit organizations:

  • Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
  • Empire State Development Corporation
  • Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Department of State

How to Apply for Funding

When grants administered by DEC become available, they are listed on the Grants web page. If you are interested in being notified when grant deadlines are announced, sign up for our email list on DEC's homepage and select "Grants" from the topic list.


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