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For Release: Friday, December 11, 2020

DEC Announces Conservation Partnership Program Grants

Funding for 50 Land Trusts to Protect Open Spaces, Improve Water Quality, and Support Local Economies

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced more than $2.2 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 50 not-for-profit land trusts across the state. A total of 69 grants funded through New York's Environmental Protection Fund will leverage an additional $2.6 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 to benefit community health, tourism, and economic development. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with DEC.

"Over the last year, New Yorkers young and old have been exploring the outdoors in record numbers," said Commissioner Seggos. "Land trusts across the state help to preserve and manage some of the special, natural places that the public has come to love. The grants announced today support forest management, conservation agriculture, coastal and wetlands restoration, and other activities that are essential to help address climate change and preserve the ecosystems we depend on. We commend the Land Trust Alliance for administering this important program."

In addition, the $2.2 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants and $2.6 million in private and local funding will increase state lands' resilience 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.

The grant awards announced today range from $3,161 to $100,000, and include:

Western New York/Finger Lakes/Southern Tier - (total $268,393)

  • Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust: Capacity Grant $18,750
  • Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy: Transaction Grant $40,000
  • Finger Lakes Land Trust: Transaction Grant $19,000
  • Genesee Land Trust: Capacity Grant $35,000; Transaction Grant $24,580
  • Grassroots Gardens WNY: Capacity Grants $56,063
  • The Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York: Capacity Grant $25,000
  • Western New York Land Conservancy: Transaction Grant $50,000

Central New York/Mohawk Valley - (total $170,450)

  • Cazenovia Preservation Foundation: Capacity Grants $42,450
  • Central New York Land Trust: Professional Development Grant $80,000
  • Otsego Land Trust: Professional Development Grant $48,000

North Country - (total $351,649)

  • Adirondack Land Trust: Capacity Grants $51,754
  • Champlain Area Trails: Capacity Grant $28,500; Transaction Grant $34,725
  • Indian River Lakes Conservancy: Capacity Grant $37,500
  • Lake Placid Land Conservancy: Capacity Grants $25,000
  • Northeast Wilderness Trust: Catalyst Grant $40,000; Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $12,000
  • Thousand Islands Land Trust: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $50,000; Transaction Grant $36,980
  • Tug Hill Tomorrow: Land Trust Capacity Grant $23,830; Transaction Grant $11,360

Capital District - (total $647,946)

  • Agricultural Stewardship Association: Capacity Grant $28,900; Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $50,000
  • American Farmland Trust: Catalyst Grant $40,000
  • Battenkill Conservancy: Capacity Grant $30,000
  • Capital Roots: Transaction Grant $18,000
  • Columbia Land Conservancy: Catalyst Grant $74,600
  • Grassland Bird Trust: Capacity Grant $30,000
  • Greene Land Trust: Capacity Grant $29,300
  • Huyck Preserve and Biological Resource Station: Capacity Grant $32,975; Transaction Grant $11,100
  • Lake George Land Conservancy: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $23,300
  • Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy: Professional Development Grant $33,710
  • The Nature Conservancy: Catalyst Grant $60,000
  • Northeastern Cave Conservancy: Transaction Grant $3,161
  • Rensselaer Land Trust: Professional Development Grant $60,000; Transaction Grant $23,000
  • Rensselaer Plateau Alliance: Transaction Grant $47,700
  • Saratoga PLAN: Capacity Grant $36,000; Transaction Grant $16,200

Mid-Hudson - (total $636,644)

  • Dutchess Land Conservancy: Professional Development Grant $100,000
  • Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS): Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $22,500
  • Hudson Highlands Land Trust: Catalyst Grant $50,000
  • Kingston Land Trust: Transaction Grants $54,994
  • Mianus River Gorge Preserve: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $38,500
  • Mohonk Preserve: Capacity Grant $14,000; Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $40,000
  • Open Space Institute: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $40,000
  • Orange County Land Trust: Catalyst Grant $35,000
  • Pound Ridge Land Conservancy: Capacity Grant $30,000; Transaction Grant $18,800
  • Scenic Hudson Land Trust: Catalyst Grant $60,000
  • Wallkill Valley Land Trust: Capacity Grant $12,000; Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $19,500
  • Westchester Land Trust: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $38,000; Transaction Grant $24,000
  • Winnakee Land Trust: Capacity Grant $30,000
  • Woodstock Land Conservancy: Capacity Grant $9,350

New York City - (total $24,418)

  • Green Guerillas: Capacity Grant $24,418

Long Island - (total $150,500)

  • HL Ferguson Museum: Catalyst Grant: $32,000
  • North Shore Land Alliance: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $40,000
  • Peconic Land Trust: Stewardship & Resource Management Grant $34,500; Transaction Grant $44,000

A detailed breakdown of these grants is available on the DEC website.

This year's grantees include 34 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, Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, Champlain Area Trails, Columbia Land Conservancy, Dutchess Land Conservancy, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Genesee Land Trust, Greene Land Trust, Huyck Preserve, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Indian River Lakes Conservancy, Lake George Land Conservancy, Mianus River Gorge, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, Mohonk Preserve, Northeast Wilderness Trust, North Shore Land Alliance, Open Space Institute, Orange County Land Trust, Otsego Land Trust, Peconic Land Trust, Rensselaer Land Trust, Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, Saratoga PLAN (Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature), Scenic Hudson Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Wallkill Valley Land Trust, Westchester Land Trust, Western New York Land Conservancy, Winnakee Land Trust, and Woodstock Land Conservancy.

Since the Conservation Partnership Program's inception in 2002, and including this year's grants, the program has awarded 997 grants totaling $21.7 million to 91 land trusts. Cumulatively, the State's investment has leveraged $23.8 million in additional funding from local and private sources.

"At a time when we increasingly value open spaces and need our economy to rebound, this funding will leverage the strength of New York's land trust community to protect the outdoor places people depend on," said Andrew Bowman, the Land Trust Alliance's president and CEO. "On behalf of the Land Trust Alliance, I applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright for their work toward ensuring the continued availability of clean water, healthy food, outdoor recreation, and economic opportunity."

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 Environmental Protection Fund generated $7 in total economic benefits from enhanced tourism, reduced government costs and improved public health. In the 2020-21 State Budget, Governor Cuomo sustained the record high EPF at $300 million for the fifth year in a row, providing funding for open space conservation, parkland stewardship, and other environmental protection projects.

Earlier this year, DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) launched the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign to encourage all New Yorkers to recreate safely, responsibly, and locally this summer and to always treat fellow outdoor adventurers with respect. The campaign invites people to take the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL pledge and promise to use common sense to protect themselves and others when enjoying the outdoors. During the State's ongoing response to COVID-19, New Yorkers across the state want and need to get outside for a nature break, which is good for physical and mental health. The campaign and pledge include common sense guidelines for smart and safe recreation, including incorporating social distancing and wearing a face mask, planning trips ahead, choosing a destination close to home because public restrooms and restaurants may not be open, and visiting at off hours. The agencies are also encouraging New Yorkers to take the pledge and use the hashtag #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal when sharing their outdoor adventures on social media.

"The funding for the Conservation Partnership Program will bolster services provided by local land trust organizations dedicated to preserving New York's natural beauty and making open spaces accessible for recreational opportunities," said Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. "Long Islanders will benefit greatly from the more than $150,000 in grants slated to fund four projects to protect the green spaces and outdoor recreation that make our communities such a wonderful place to live. Importantly, by sequestering carbon and fostering natural climate solutions, this funding will help advance New York's bold and aggressive plan to mitigate climate change and its devastating effects."

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, "The Environmental Protection Fund provides critical support for open space programs. Land preservation is one of the most effective ways to protect the environment. The Conservation Partnership Program grants are essential to help land trusts preserve land in perpetuity and ensure that New Yorkers have access to open space, clean water, and local agricultural products."

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000-member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at the Land Trust Alliance website.

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