Oblong Land Conservancy awarded grants at start of Earth Week

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, on Monday, April 20th, announced $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 55 nonprofit land trusts, including Oblong Land Conservancy, across the State. Representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event today at Teatown Lake Reservation in Westchester County. The announcement launches a weeklong celebration of Earth Week, which recognizes New York’s commitment to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.

“New York’s natural resources play a vital role in our economy, and today we are taking another step forward in protecting and preserving them for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “With these grants, New York’s Environmental Protection Fund is securing critical funding for environmental and open space programs that will continue to protect our environment, generate jobs and revenue in local communities and ensure a cleaner and healthier New York.”

The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will leverage an additional $1.7 million in private and local funding to support projects to protect farmland, wildlife habitat, water quality, enhance public access for outdoor recreational opportunities, and conserve priority open space areas important for community health, tourism and regional economic development. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with DEC.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “DEC’s partnerships with land trusts are crucial to achieving our conservation goals, without which there would be many land conservation projects that would not be possible. Governor Cuomo continues to demonstrate his commitment to the environment, diversity, providing opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen, and improving recreational access opportunities near where people live in New York State. This year’s budget provided a $15 million increase to the Environmental Protection Fund including increases to land acquisition, municipal parks and environmental justice grants.”

In this 12th round of Conservation Partnership Program grants, administered by DEC, Oblong Land Conservancy and other local land trusts received grants to help sustain and expand community and landowner outreach initiatives as well as develop an array of land conservation, stewardship and education programs.  

Oblong Land Conservancy received two grants, the first a Capacity Grant to improve access and visitor experience at its centerpiece Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale, NY.  The funding will be used to construct a new trailhead kiosk and additional signage.  The second, a Conservation Transaction Grant, will assist in the acquisition of 44 acres located in the Town of Dover and lying within the Great Swamp Watershed.  This transaction is part of a larger initiative to conserve property through the North American Wetlands Act (NAWCA) involving a number of partners including the Town of Dover, Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) and Oblong.

Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded over 647 grants totaling $11.3 million in EPF funds to 86 different land trust organizations across the state. The state’s investment has leveraged $13 million in additional funding from local communities and private donors.

The 2015-16 State Budget increased the Environmental Protection Fund by $15 million to $177 million. An additional $20 million in Wall Street settlement funds is allocated for permanent farmland protection in the Hudson Valley to help secure New York City’s foodshed.

Recent research underscores how New York’s investment in land conservation and open space boosts property values, supports local businesses, saves taxpayer dollars and protects public health. A 2011 study by the Trust for Public Land found that every dollar of investment from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund generates $7 in total economic benefits from tourism, reduced government costs and public health.

The EPF grants announced today will support local efforts that contribute substantially to the Hudson Valley region’s $800 million agricultural sector and $4.3 billion tourism economy by helping to preserve the state’s most productive agricultural lands and expanding public access to trails and other popular recreation areas. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in New York directly supports 305,000 jobs across the state, generating $15 billion in wages and tax revenue.
Oblong Land Conservancy, an all-volunteer organization based in Pawling, NY, has recently completed the application process for Accreditation demonstrating its commitment to rigorous national standards for nonprofit governance and organizational excellence.