$250,000 in Grants For Open Space Conservation

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced $250,000 in grants and technical assistance to 24 land trust organizations across New York State as part of the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, an effort initiated last year to enhance local open space conservation programs. The program, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), is being administered by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA).

"The protection of open space is an important investment in our environment and our future, ensuring that our natural resources are preserved and people have an opportunity to enjoy our State's magnificent lands and waters," Commissioner Crotty said. "Governor Pataki's commitment to open space conservation has allowed us to preserve more than 400,000 acres of land in the past eight years. These grants will create additional opportunities for individual land trusts to work with local officials and interested stakeholders to protect critical lands in communities across the State, building upon New York's rich environmental heritage."

Senator Carl L. Marcellino, chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "The Land Trust Alliance, the Department of Environmental Conservation and I share a common goal to preserve open space in New York State. By providing this $250,000 grant, I am confident that the Partnership Program will continue to pursue Governor Pataki's million acre goal and build on our State's recent success in open space preservation and conservation."

Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli, chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "Land trusts have been invaluable allies to state and local governments by protecting lands that would have otherwise been lost to development. This program will enable the Land Trust Alliance to leverage additional public funds to preserve our farmlands, open spaces, and historic properties today and safeguard them for the generations of tomorrow."

Land Trust Alliance Northeast Program Director Ezra Milchman said, "After three years of work to create the New York Conservation Partnership Program, The Land Trust Alliance is thrilled to see the immediate environmental benefits that come from investing in land trusts. The grants announced today will provide New Yorkers with approximately 644 acres of new conservation land in 13 locations across the State, and lay the foundation to conserve much more. It is indeed a great day for New York's environment and we are grateful to Governor Pataki, Assemblyman DiNapoli, and Senator Marcellino for making this program possible."

The 2002 EPF designated $250,000 to the Land Trust Alliance to administer the competitive matching grants program for local land trusts to improve efforts to identify, acquire and protect open space resources. The grants are offered in various categories:

  • organizational development grants, which will assist land trusts with planning, community outreach, fundraising and other program areas;
  • transaction grants, which will help to cover costs associated with purchasing property, or accepting a land donation or conservation easement protecting private property; and
  • staffing grants, which are targeted for volunteer land trusts and smaller land trusts to help them add professional staff to more effectively protect and manage open space.

All grant recipients must have adopted the Land Trust Alliance's Land Trust Standards and Practices to ensure professional standards of operation are met.

In his 2003-04 Executive Budget, Governor Pataki has proposed awarding an additional $200,000 in EPF funding to the New York State Conservation Partnership Program. If enacted as proposed, this additional grant would bring the total State contribution to the Conservation Partnership Program to $450,000.

Since 1995, the State has invested more than $378 million to conserve more than 400,000 acres. Governor Pataki also has promoted the Quality Communities initiative, which focuses on revitalizing community centers, protecting open space, and improving high speed communications and use of technology. The program is designed to provide incentives and enhance opportunities for innovative planning and community development techniques that link environmental protection, economic prosperity and community well-being.

The Land Trust Alliance is a non-profit, membership-supported organization dedicated to increasing the pace and quality of land conservation across America. Founded in 1982, LTA works directly with more than 1,200 land trusts nationwide, including 72 in New York State with more than 36,000 individual members representing local communities. Working with state and local governments, LTA and the land trust community have helped to protect approximately 430,000 acres of land in New York State and more than 6 million acres nationwide.

For additional information on the Land Trust Alliance New York grant program, visit LTA's website at www.LTA.org or contact the organization at (518) 587-0774.