The Nature Conservancy in New York applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Legislators for coming to a budget agreement that will increase the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by $19 million, providing $153 million for EPF programs across the state in the next fiscal year. This funding increase represents a critical first step toward rebuilding the EPF, which had been reduced significantly in past years during the economic crisis.
The EPF supports programs that conserve New York’s open space, wildlife habitat, clean water, and support urban parks, improve water quality and help communities reduce risk from extreme weather and sea level rise. Supporting the EPF is a centerpiece of The Nature Conservancy's New York policy agenda for 2013.
"The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Mark Grisanti, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Robert Sweeney for their commitment to the Environmental Protection Fund, which protects valuable natural resources, creates jobs and provides funding to communities for programs that will reduce disaster related risks,” said Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York.
Following Superstorm Sandy, The Nature Conservancy served on the New York State 2100 Commission, which recognized the importance of natural systems as part of the solution to addressing community risk from extreme weather and other disasters. Through various EPF programs, communities will be able to protect and enhance natural systems that can act as buffers during extreme weather, and create plans for smart redevelopment of areas including waterfronts.
The EPF also has significant economic benefits for New York State. A 2012 study by the Trust for Public Land showed that every $1 invested in EPF land conservation programs returned $7 of benefits to the state through natural services. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the EPF, which has deployed more than $2 billion to communities in every region of New York State.
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.
Jessica Ottney Mahar