CONSERVATIONISTS CELEBRATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NYS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FUND
Members of the Long Island Legislative Delegation Were Recognized for Two Decades of Leadership in Protecting Our Land, Air and Water Through Investments in the Environmental Protection Fund
Long Island Officials
Officials received framed photos from conservationists for their commitment to supporting the Environmental Protection Fund.
Conservation groups, state agencies and elected officials joined together at Belmont Lake State Park to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The groups honored Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (Lindenhurst), who has become a champion of the EPF as chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. Senator Boyle (Bay Shore), Assemblymember Lavine (Glen Cove), Assemblymember Ramos (Central Islip) and Assemblymember Theile (Sag Harbor) were also honored for their leadership roles in creating and growing the EPF over the last two decades.
The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) has provided more than $1 billion since 1993 to support critical programs that protect our clean water, public health, and industries including agriculture and tourism. Our local economy and good quality jobs have been enhanced and supported, thanks to the EPF, which has pumped more than $200 million into Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Long Island has greatly benefitted from the EPF, with its two counties both in the “top five” for spending from the Fund since it was created in 1993. In Nassau County, for example, more than $22 million has been provided for waterfront revitalization and water quality projects, increasing public access to our beaches and bays, and ensuring that communities can protect drinking water for future generations. In Suffolk County, more than $65 million from the EPF has been invested in protecting open space, parks and farmland. This funding has helped to preserve beaches, farms, vineyards and parklands, which generate $2.74 billion in economic benefits annually on Long Island. These programs also help sustain the thriving Long Island tourism industry with annual revenues of $4.7 billion, and Suffolk County’s agricultural industry, which ranks #1 in the state for market value.
“The Environmental Protection Fund has been doing great things for Long Island’s environment over the past 20 years: from improving drinking water quality to protecting open space and farmland and helping to keep Long Island a sought-after tourist destination,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney. “I am committed to continuing my work as a champion for the EPF in the coming state budget and beyond.”
“Long Islanders understand that the health of our water is directly related to the health of our community and economy,” said Nancy Kelley, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “Over the last twenty years the Environmental Protection Fund has helped catalyze important water quality revitalization efforts and looking to our future it can continue to be a strategic investment that provides multiple benefits such as local jobs, recreational opportunities, restored habitats, and clean water. We thank the leaders that had the vision and foresight to create EPF twenty years ago, as well as Assemblyman Sweeney, for his leadership to continue this vision and grow the EPF now and into the future.”
“The EPF has provided more than $1 billion since 1993 to support critical programs that protect our environment,” said State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle. “It has invested in protecting Suffolk County’s open spaces, parks and farms and has helped to preserve our beaches, farms, vineyards and parklands, for future generations.”
“The EPF has helped define what it is to live, work and recreate on Long Island. Over the last 20 years, it has helped to keep our beaches and bays beautiful and accessible; it has helped preserve open space and scenic vistas, and provided funding for important cultural and tourist attractions that add to Long Island’s beauty,” said Lisa Ott, President of North Shore Land Alliance.
“If not for the Environmental Protection Fund, the protection of the Long Island Pine Barrens and the pure drinking water below them simply would not have been possible,” said Peter A. Scully, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Chairman of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission. “In addition to safeguarding our drinking water, the EPF has helped to protect important wetlands, working farms and wildlife habitats for future generations to enjoy.”
“Long Islanders are among the greatest beneficiaries of the Environmental Protection Fund. There would simply have been no Pine Barrens Preserve without the EPF,” said Richard Amper, Executive Director, Long Island Pine Barrens Society.
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) said: “Whether it be a tourist visiting one of Long Island’s pristine beaches, a farmer working in Suffolk County, or someone that has enjoyed our local seafood; everyone’s quality of life has been enhanced by the EPF. CCE thanks the leaders that had the vision and foresight to create EPF 20 years ago, as well as Assemblyman Sweeney, for his leadership to continue this vision and grow the EPF now and into the future.”
According to Bob DeLuca, President of Group For the East End, "Over the last 20 years, the Environmental Protection Fund has been a much needed lifeline for land and water conservation throughout the state, and all across Long Island. From Pine Barrens protection and waterfront revitalization, to coastal habitat restoration and recycling, the EPF has been an unprecedented catalyst for positive environmental change. As we look to the future, there is no doubt that our remaining environmental challenges will require the exact same type of vision and leadership that created the EPF to assure that continued investment in New York's environment remains a top priority."
“Long Island’s bays and harbors have benefitted tremendously from EPF funding over the past two decades: from financing essential assessment and planning for our estuary, as well as providing for the implementation of important remedial measures like our sewage pumpout facilities. EPF is a vital resource for communities like Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor to protect and restore the marine environment, which is integral to our economy and identity,” said Paul DeOrsay, Executive Director of Friends of the Bay.
“EPF has been a critical tool in the preservation of Montauk,” said Jeremy Samuelson, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk. “Over the last 20 years, the EPF has made significant contributions to the most important land conservation efforts and state parks across the region. CCOM celebrates the EPF and those who have stood to protect it over the decades. We look forward to the continued investments in the future of Long Island.”
In the past 20 years, annual EPF appropriations have grown from $31 million in 1993 to more than $250 million in 2008 at the EPF’s highest. The EPF now stands at $153 million. Governor Cuomo, together with the Legislature, added $19 million to the EPF in this year’s budget – the first increase since the recent economic crisis – which will enhance critical programs that benefit every county in New York State by creating jobs, conserving clean air and water, and supporting essential municipal services.
“Over the past 20 years, the EPF has provided critical funding for stewardship of state parks and forests, as well as local community parks and trails,” said Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “Parks & Trails New York looks forward to the next 20 years and continuing to work together with our partners, local communities, and the state to expand and enhance the network of parks, trails and greenways across the state for all New Yorkers for generations to come.”
“Long Island’s beaches, pine barrens, parks and nature centers are vitally important, and not just for the environment – they are a green economic engine, too,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The Environmental Protection Fund makes long-term investments in our natural resources to create jobs, strengthen communities, boost tourism and attract businesses. Today, we are proud to celebrate the Environmental Protection Fund along with Assemblyman Bob Sweeney and all of the state leaders who support the EPF’s vital work.”
A 2011 study by The Trust for Public Land showed that every $1 invested in land and water protection through the EPF has returned $7 to the state in natural goods and services. Through additional program enhancements in future state budgets, the region and the state can continue to capitalize on the significant economic returns generated by the EPF while also protecting clean water and clean air, and ensuring our quality of life for future generations.
Photo caption: Officials received framed photos from conservationists for their commitment to supporting the Environmental Protection Fund. From left to right: Assemblymember Lavine—Glen Cove; Peter A. Scully, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Representative of Assemblymember Ramos—Central Islip; Assemblymember Thiele—Sag Harbor, Senator Boyle—Bay Shore; and Assemblymember Robert Sweeney – Lindenhurst.
Editors please note: individual photos of elected officials receiving awards are available, please let me know if you are interested.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.