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For Release: Thursday, November 20, 2014

DEC Accepting Applications for Adirondack and Catskill Smart Growth Implementation Grants

$800,000 Available for Municipalities and Not-For-Profit Organizations

Adirondack Park and Catskill Park communities and organizations can now apply for $800,000 in Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants for smart growth projects, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"The Adirondack and Catskill Parks are uniquely composed of public parklands and private property, home to thousands of residents and dozens of communities." said Commissioner Martens. "These smart growth grants will help communities grow in a sustainable fashion that leverages the terrific assets of the Parks while bringing economic benefits to the regions."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, these grants support implementation of key projects, actions and strategies identified in local plans developed by Adirondack Park and Catskill Park communities in pursuit of smart growth. DEC's Smart Growth Implementation Grants Program is modeled after the national "smart growth" movement, which promotes growth that harmonizes economic development with protection of the natural and built environment.

The funding includes $400,000 dedicated to each of the Parks. The grants will be focused on smart growth implementation projects within hamlets, villages and town centers. Projects can include capital improvements, environmentally sound economic development and organizational capacity-building to advance key projects.

The two separate official Requests for Application (RFAs) are available through the NYS Grants Gateway (website can be found in the right hand column of this page). DEC is also sending the RFA to more than 130 units of local governments and non-profit organizations in the Parks. DEC will again partner with the Department of State and the Adirondack Park Agency in carrying out the program, building on the success of previous rounds of funding that focused on planning projects.

The Adirondack Park is America's largest, and one of the oldest, state parks in the country. Under Governor Cuomo, New York State's commitment to the Park has never been stronger; DEC is working with local officials and other stakeholders in the Park to improve the economy and community livability in the Park. Unlike most traditional parks, the landscape within the Adirondack Park is composed of about 50 percent private lands. It is the home of 130,000 permanent residents, more than 115 municipal governments and dozens of hamlets that help define the character and culture of the park.

The Adirondack Park grants seek to capitalize on the collaborative planning efforts of communities and organizations in the Park. Cooperation among Adirondack residents and regional organizations in the Common Ground Alliance and the Adirondack Partnership has created consensus around regional priorities. The first two rounds of Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth grant projects included extensive planning, visioning and strategizing. As a result, the Park has a unified economic development strategy and many communities now have plans and projects that are ready for implementation.

The Catskill Park was created in the early 20th Century to protect this mountainous and scenic region. It is also home to a portion of the New York City Reservoir system that relies on the beautiful forests to deliver pure water to millions of New Yorkers daily. The Catskill Park is known as a superb tourist and outdoor recreational destination with picturesque hamlets nestled within its lofty mountains. The Catskill Park consists of approximately 705,000 acres, almost half of which are "forever wild" lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve. In addition, the City of New York holds approximately 80,000 acres in the region. The area offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails and fishing on its fabled waterways. The Park serves as watershed, recreation area, and ecological and scenic reserve. As regional development pressures on Park communities increase, this program is designed to reinforce the assets of the villages and hamlets and help preserve the heritage of the Catskill Park.

The Catskill Park Smart Growth Implementation Grants provide support for projects that enable Catskill communities to capitalize on their unique natural setting to improve community livability and economic vitality. Communities and local non-profit organizations are well-positioned to implement regional priorities such as rail trail development, tourism accommodation and renewal of historic hamlets consistent with protecting the Park environment and enhancing recreational access.

The deadline for both applications is 2:00 pm January 30, 2015. DEC anticipates announcing grant awards in March 2015.

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