January 22, 2018
ARKVILLE — Since 2013, the Catskill Center, Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Catskill Park Coalition have annually led groups of volunteers in a day of Catskills advocacy in Albany. The goal is to meet with as many of the 214 New York State legislators as possible on Feb. 6.
The day will be spent discussing the needs of the Catskill Park, Catskill Forest Preserve and our Catskill communities and presenting legislators with the 2018 budget priorities, as they have been determined by the Catskill Park Coalition.
This year, we’ll be asking for a Catskill Park Funding Package of $14,350,000 to be included in the 2018 state budget.
The group will also ask for some of the following:
Increase the budget and staffing for the NYSDEC’s Division of Lands and Forest to better manage Catskill Park. Hold annual Forest Ranger Academies to maintain and grow Ranger force to maintain public safety ($1,000,000);
Funding to support the “Save the Hemlocks” initiative led by Cornell University to reduce the impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on hemlock trees by developing effective biocontrols ($1,500,000);
Push for carbon neutral/green infrastructure in new projects across the Catskill Park including electric vehicle charging stations and solar panel installations at State Campgrounds, the Catskill Interpretive Center and at Belleayre Ski Center ($500,000);
Support continued funding of the Belleayre Ski Center Unit Management Plan for projects not related to private resort expansion; and
New funding for Catskill Park Scenic Byways to support regional byway coordination and management efforts led the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway and the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway organizations ($250,000).
In 2017, the Catskill Park Day action generated a historic $7.2 million commitment for the Catskill Park from the state of New York and an $8 million commitment for the Belleayre Ski Center.
The 2017 monies benefitted infrastructure improvements within the “blue line” of the park, continued community Smart Growth Grants and provided funding for improvements to the Belleayre Ski Center.
In years past, thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature, the Catskill Park and region have seen strong growth in the marketing and promotion of the Catskills, which has provided a boost to our tourism-based economy.
State programs like the Governor’s Catskills Challenge and I Love New York promotions have dramatically raised regional awareness and buoyed the profile of the Catskills. We see the benefits of that promotion at locations like our Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, where we are welcoming and introducing the Catskills to hundreds of new visitors every month.
The Coalition will be offering an advocacy primer which will be hosted by the Catskill Center. The workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Catskill Center in Arkville. For those who are unable to attend in person, a call-in option will be available at 845-414-3399. A $5 donation is requested at the door to help support advocacy efforts like this for the Catskills. For information, contact Jonathan Mogelever at 845-586-2611 or [email protected].