Press Release from DEC and State Park on
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Commissioner Rose Harvey today released the 2014 State Open Space Conservation Plan for public comment. The plan guides State Environmental Protection Fund investments in open space protection. Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted from September 17 until December 17 and a series of public hearings will be held across the state from October 21 to October 23.
The Draft Plan makes recommendations on how open space conservation will help accomplish Governor Cuomo’s goals, which include: ensuring clean water, air and land for a healthy public and vibrant economy; greening New York’s economy; protecting natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation; increasing and improving the visitor experience; creating a 21st century parks system that is aesthetically compelling, energy and operationally efficient, and built to last; and working to address climate change.
Building upon the recommendations of Regional Advisory Committees, the Commissioners now ask the public to make recommendations on how open space conservation programs can make the state better prepared and more resilient in preparation of future storms and climate change. Governor Cuomo created the NYS 2100 commission in response to Superstorm Sandy to generate recommendations to improve resilience and strengthen the state’s infrastructure in the face of natural disasters and other emergencies. Many of the open space recommendations included in the 2100 Commission report are integrated into the draft plan.
“By increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund and incorporating resiliency principles in Sandy recovery and NYWorks, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated his commitment to protecting New York’s open spaces,” DEC Commissioner Martens said. “New Yorkers and visitors to the state love open spaces and the plan will ensure New York’s natural resources are protected and preserved for future generations. Specifically, the draft plan makes a series of common sense policy recommendations that will protect wildlife habitat, protect water quality, provide opportunities for public recreation, protect working farms and forests, and build resiliency and protect property from the effects of storm surges and flooding. The 137 priority projects identified by Regional Advisory Committees will extend New York’s proud tradition of open space protection.”
State Parks Commissioner Harvey said, “New York State parks and public lands remain essential pieces in the building of communities. These lands offer visitors peaceful or fun-filled getaways, promote healthier lifestyles and serve as important economic drivers for the State and local communities. New York’s abundance of parks and open spaces are reason enough alone for families and business to relocate to New York. We look forward to hearing from the public on the draft plan.”
The draft plan was created through the work of nine Regional Advisory Committees composed of representatives of county governments and people knowledgeable in open space conservation selected by DEC and State Parks. The nine committees correspond to DEC’s nine administrative regions. Each committee was asked by the Commissioners to review the existing 2009 plan, including the list of priority open space conservation projects, as well as policy recommendations, to make New York’s comprehensive open space conservation program stronger in the future.
The Commissioners invite the public to comment in writing and at the public hearings. Specifically, comments could offer suggestions on:
• how the state and its partners can promote and enhance existing and new state lands as tourism destinations as part of a comprehensive open space conservation program;
• how the state can make public lands attractive to a diversity of New Yorkers;
• how DEC and State Parks can offer better access for sportsmen and women;
• how DEC and State Parks can work to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors of all abilities through Universal Access;
• where DEC and State Parks can further develop Universal Access; and
• what the state can do to acquire and make more accessible lands near and in urban centers.
“The draft plan covers a lot of ground,” Commissioner Martens added. “We urge the public to review the draft plan and give us comments that can strengthen the State’s Open Space Conservation program in the future.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Open space and agriculture are inherently connected. Farms not only provide an opportunity to grow local products, but a habitat for wildlife and scenic vistas that are a draw for tourists across the state. Many of the goals of the open space plan such as maintaining critical natural resources and enhancing scenic, cultural and historic resources are made possible in large part due to the existence of working farms and woodlands. Updating the state’s Open Space Plan every three years is a good way to ensure that our existing open space resources are inventoried and enables the state to better plan for future open space protection efforts.”
Public comments can be submitted by email to LF.OpenSpacePlan@dec.ny.gov or mailed to DEC by December 17 to:
Open Space Conservation Plan
Albany, NY 12233
An electronic version of the draft plan is available on DEC’s website.
Since 1992, the Open Space Conservation Plan has served as the blueprint for the State’s Open Space Program, guiding the investment of land protection funds from the Environmental Protection Fund. As required by law, the Plan is updated periodically, relying heavily on the work of the nine Regional Advisory Committees, which have worked with staff from both agencies and the public to produce a draft for public hearings and comments in 2014. Following the public comment period the Plan will be finalized and submitted to Governor Cuomo for approval in 2015.