According to Mid-Hudson News, ARKVILLE – The Catskill Park Coalition, which the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development co-chairs, is asking Governor Kathy Hochul to include a number of Catskill Park funding priorities in her executive budget proposal.
The top three priorities are public safety and Catskill Park management, continued funding in the Environmental Protection Fund, and support for local economies.
These funding priorities secure protections for clean water, natural resources, and public health, the coalition said. They also safeguard recreational access and quality of life for residents of and visitors to the park. “The CPC represents more than two dozen organizations that work to protect, promote, and care for the Catskill Park,” said Jeff Senterman, executive director of the Catskill Center. “The Catskill Park Coalition reached its 2023 priorities by consensus and identifying unmet needs in the park. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature to ensure that these critical funding priorities for the Catskill Park are met.”
For public safety and Catskill Park management, the coalition wants to see the State Department of Environmental Conservation adequately staffed, including by adding staff in the Division of Lands and Forests, to better manage the Catskill Park and its more than 1.7 million annual visitors.
The coalition also asks that within the EPF, existing funding lines for the Catskills remain, including for the Catskills Visitor Center as well as for smart growth grants.
The consortium also requests a new line in the EPF containing at least $200,000 to support the existing education and stewardship program. Catskill stewards have proven vital to educating the growing number of visitors to help preserve the park’s gem of an environment. The Catskill Stewards Program is a partnership with DEC and Catskill Mountainkeeper.