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 

Active Priorities

Increase State Parks’ agency staffing to 2,300 FTEs to ensure increased visitation needs are met

Increase permanent staffing at the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to correct the unsustainable strain on state park operations and ensure that all visitors continue to have access to safe outdoor places for recreation and respite. 

2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes a 15% increase allowing the agency to hire crucial new staff 

Maintain capital investment and modernization programs

Ensure adequate funding for capital investments to sustain the restoration and revitalization of State Parks’ aging infrastructure, including supporting a visioning plan for state park and historic site expansions, updates, and construction in order to continue improving visitor experience, expanding recreation opportunities and rejuvenating deteriorating facilities.


2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes $250 million for parks capital, more than twice as much as last year’s allocation of $110 million


Increase funding for Park and Trail Partnership Grants from $1 million to $2 million

Increasing funding for this competitive grant program will expand the impact of Friends groups by further advancing public-private partnership efforts towards stewardship, expanding access to the state’s parks and public lands and addressing barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion.

2022 UPDATE: The adopted EPF includes a doubling of our Park and Trail Partnership Grant funding, to $2 million!

Coalition Priorities

Support an expanded Environmental Protection Fund from $300 million to $500 million

The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is critical to safeguarding New York's clean air and water, protected parklands, working farms, addressing the impact of climate change and creating good-quality jobs. The EPF supports 350,000 jobs across New York in a broad spectrum of industries including outdoor recreation, tourism, forestry, and environmental stewardship of our natural resources. EPF-supported industries add $40 billion to the state’s economy every year. For every $1 invested in land and water protection, $7 in economic benefits is returned to the state.

2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes a record $400 million EPF

Continue to expose students to nature through the Connect Kids to Parks Grant Program

Maintain the Connect Kids Grant Program at $2 million to continue to unite students, especially youth from Title 1 communities, with nature and history via reimbursement for field trips to state and federal parks, forests, historic sites, fish hatcheries and other outdoor recreation areas. The Connect Kids Program is funded by the EPF and administered by New York State Parks.  

2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes an additional $1 million for the Connect Kids, bringing the program total to $3 million

Increase funding for the Municipal Parks Grant Program

Increasing funding for the Parks, Preservation and Heritage (Municipal Parks) Program will create more equitable opportunities for all New Yorkers to access open spaces and outdoor recreation. The total amount of applications meets or exceeds $90 million annually, yet only a tenth of that demand is awarded each year.

2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes a record $26 million for the Municipal Parks program, including a requirement that nearly 40% of funding be directed toward Environmental Justice communities. 

Encourage Adoption of the $4 billion "Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs"  Environmental Bond Act

The Environmental Bond Act represents an historic investment in protecting and preserving our natural environment, while ensuring that New York can withstand the impending threats of climate change. The proposal by Governor Hochul will ensure that the state can meet these urgent needs in a timely manner by being approved by voters in November 2022.

2022 UPDATE: The adopted budget includes a $4.2 billion environmental bond act. 

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.