Funds to Support Recreation and Economic Growth while Protecting the Environment
Adirondack and Catskill Park communities and organizations can now apply for $600,000 in Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants for smart growth projects, State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. These grants support the implementation of priority projects including economic development, infrastructure enhancements and other initiatives to bolster the regions communities and organizations.
"Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's leadership, New York State has seen increased visitation and tourism spending in the Adirondack and Catskill regions," Acting Commissioner Seggos said. "These smart growth grants will help communities in these treasured areas further cultivate and expand sustainable tourism efforts and improve quality of life with attractions, accommodations and infrastructure."
DEC's Smart Growth Implementation Grant Program promotes projects that combine economic development with protection of the natural and built environment. Under Governor Cuomo's direction, Adirondack and Catskill communities identified and developed smart growth plans for their regions, and this funding is used to catalyze their implementation. The funding includes $400,000 dedicated to the Adirondack Park and $200,000 to Catskill Park.
The two separate official Requests for Application (RFAs) are available through the NYS Grants Gateway website. DEC is also sending the RFA to more than 130 units of local governments and non-profit organization in the Parks. DEC is again partnering 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 and implementation projects.
The Adirondack Park is America's largest publicly protected area in the country. Unlike most traditional parks, the landscape within Adirondack Park is composed of about 50 percent private lands. It is home to 130,000 permanent residents, more than 115 municipal governments and dozens of hamlets that help define the character and culture of the park. Under Governor Cuomo, New York State's commitment to the Adirondack Park has never been stronger.
Previous grants to Adirondack communities improved cultural amenities, enhanced downtowns, refurbished historic properties and created new recreational trail connections to attract and sustain tourism. This new grant will build upon work already completed in the area and tackle new projects recognized as regional priorities by Adirondack residents and regional organizations in the Common Ground Alliance and the Adirondack Partnership.
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 which delivers pure water to millions of New Yorkers daily. At 705,000 acres, almost half of which are "forever wild" lands of the Catskill Forest Preserve, the Catskill Park is known as a superb tourist and outdoor recreation destination with picturesque hamlets nestled within its lofty mountains. The park serves as a watershed, recreation area, and ecological and scenic reserve.
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's environment and enhancing recreational access. This is the third round of implementation grants in the Catskill Park. The first two rounds supported projects that provided informational signage and kiosks, enhanced parks and public spaces, adapted and re-used historic buildings and created recreational trails through the countryside.
The deadline for both applications is January 30, 2016. DEC anticipates announcing grant awards in March 2016.