As you may have heard by now, the New York Governor’s budget is going to include $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). This is the largest the EPF has ever been and it’s over $100 million more than it was in 2015. This is great news for those who would label themselves “enviros” in New York. But why? What can we accomplish with $300 million dollars and how does it affect Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) members directly?

Well listen in, because this new line of funding has some significant impacts. Generically speaking this program protects open space, revitalizes waterfronts, supports recycling, preserves farmland, enhances water quality, and helps connect New Yorkers with the outdoors. It will enable the state to buy more Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

In the 2015-16  State Land Stewardship line in the EPF, which funds (in part) your ADK Professional Trail Crew and Summit Steward Programs, received $18 million. With increased funding in the 2016-17 EPF we can expect the continuations of these programs and can advocate for increasing the funding to bolster ADK’s trails and summit steward programs. More trail repairs? More alpine habitat protection? Both would help offset the impacts of an ever increasing hiker impact on State Land.

Another important line in the EPF is the invasive species appropriation. This helps with efforts to control aquatic invasive species in the Adirondacks as well as funding for invasive species spread prevention and eradication around the state. Invasive species are one of the greatest threats facing all the environments you enjoy. New York’s environmental diversity is threatened and meaningful action to prevent and eradicate invasive species is critical.

The EPF doesn’t just protect our wild places and environmental health. It generates a significant benefit to the State’s economy. Over 25% of New York State’s tourism based economy is generated through outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation also generates approximately $800 million in tax revenue and has supported 130,000 jobs. Lands protected by the EPF have generated more than $3.5 billion in sales for wildlife based recreation which includes hunting, fishing and viewing. The final economic point I will make is that for every $1 invested in the EPF the state sees an economic return of $7.

A $300 million EPF will bring relief to many programs which have struggled in the past years due to underfunding. Investing in the EPF is investing in a future for New York State’s environment and economy.

ADK advocated for this increase in the EPF as part of Friends of NY’s Environment (We Love NY), and we greatly appreciate the Governor’s commitment to this major increase in the Environmental Protection Fund.

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