Save Our State Parks
New York's State Parks face an unprecedented crisis. For the first time in the history of NYS, Governor Paterson is closing State Parks--as many as 90 will potentially shut their doors this spring. Not even during the Great Depression did our state parks close. In fact, FDR made them a vital part of our nation’s economic recovery.
Contact your legislators. Ask them to:
1. Restore $11 million to State Park’s operating budget to prevent closing dozens of State Parks and Historic Sites.
2. Provide $27 million for State Parks Capital Projects, either within the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), State Park Infrastructure Fund (SPIF), or by providing a third year of bonded capital funding for State Parks. Restore the EPF to $222 million, 2009-2010 levels.
Why State Parks Are Important
1. State Parks provide affordable, close to home recreational opportunities. Last year more than 56 million people visited New York State Parks--2 million more than the previous year.
2. Closing parks will hit surrounding communities hard. Parks are economic engines that annually generate $1.9 billion and 20,000 jobs (not including park staff). The benefits State Parks provide New York far outweigh their cost.
3. State Parks make up a mere one-quarter of one percent of the total state budget. For every dollar New York spends on parks, our state’s economy enjoys a five dollar return. When you close a park or historic site, you save some expenses, but you also lose revenue (entrance fees, camping fees, picnic shelter rentals, etc – all park revenues remain with the agency).
4. Every $1 million in park closings generates only $650,000 in net budget savings. Closing State Parks would be disastrous for New York’s families and economy.
State Parks Operating Budget: Background
5. The latest cuts would mean that State Parks operating budget will have been cut by nearly 40% over the past two years. The agency has already lost 1,000 permanent and seasonal workers. This year the governor proposed to cut the operating budget by about $25 million.
6. Only $11 million is required to keep parks open--less than half the proposed cut. State Parks and Historic sites have suffered more than their fair share of cuts. Despite a larger overall statewide budget this year, they received about 22% in cuts to their state operations funding.
State Parks Capital Initiative
7. Decades of underinvestment in the State Park System has led to a critical capital backlog that exceeds $650 million. Many of the projects in desperate need of capital funding are those that impact public health and safety - i.e. sewers, drinking water systems, bridge replacement.
8. Environmental Protection Fund Governor Paterson’s budget proposal for FY2010-11 disproportionately cuts the EPF by 33%, from $222M to $143M. The funding must be restored to $222M.