Somers Land Trust Awarded $5,000 Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Somers Land Trust is awarded a $5,000 grant from the Land Trust Alliance

(Albany, NY) – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Land Trust Alliance (the Alliance) joined members of the state Legislature and land trust representatives today to announce $1.4  million in Conservation Partnership Program grants. The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will enable local nonprofit land trusts to increase the pace, improve the quality, and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits for communities across the state.

The Somers Land Trust was awarded one of these prestigious grants—a $5,000 guided organizational assessment based on Land Trust Standards and Practices. This grant will enable the land trust to begin the process of moving from its informal, all-volunteer beginnings towards becoming a fully professional, accredited organization.

The land trust, though a longtime conservation advocate in the Town of Somers, began to play a far larger role from 2000 on, first in the bond referendum by which Somers residents approved monies for open space protection, and then again in its assumption of daily management responsibilities on the Angle Fly Preserve—the 654-acre acquisition that was the eventual fruit of Somers open space protection efforts. The new DEC/LTA grant will be particularly helpful in enabling the land trust to effectively discharge its growing responsibilities in local conservation efforts.

The competitive state grants announced today will be matched by more than $1.82 million in private and local funding. Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Conservation Partnership Program has leveraged over $12 million in additional funding, creating employment and advancement opportunities in the conservation field and helping local communities permanently conserve approximately 15,000 acres of farmland, wildlife habitat, recreation areas, and urban open space. In all, 57 nonprofit land trusts across New York will receive grant funds announced today, including the North Shore Land Alliance, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Columbia Land Conservancy, New York Agricultural Land Trust, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Genesee Land Trust and Western New York Land Conservancy.

Since 2002, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded matching grants for 350 projects benefitting 75 different land trust organizations across the state. The grants announced today will help local land trusts sustain and expand community and landowner outreach, land conservation, stewardship, and education programs. The grants will create new land trust jobs and strengthen partnerships with local and state governments, advancing efforts to preserve prime farmland, municipal watersheds and green infrastructure around the state. Land trusts will also apply funds to prepare for national accreditation, supporting New York land trusts’ commitment to best practices and rigorous standards for organizational excellence.

Recent research underscores how investments in land conservation and open space boost property values, support local businesses, save taxpayer dollars, and protect public health, for example, by preserving watersheds and aquifers that provide clean drinking water for millions of New Yorkers. A report last year from the Trust for Public Land found that parks and open space on Long Island generate $2.74 billion in direct economic benefit from tourism, reduced government costs and public health. A 2010 report from the New York State Comptroller recommended the Conservation Partnership Program as a model for public-private collaboration because it leverages substantial resources for local efforts to preserve clean air and water resources, agriculture, and outdoor recreational opportunities close to home.

More than 150 land trust representatives and environmental advocates were on hand for the announcement, held in conjunction with the Friends of New York’s Environment Lobby Day in the State Capitol. Earlier in the morning, land trust leaders thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for avoiding additional cuts to New York’s Environmental Protection Fund in his proposed Executive Budget. Environmental leaders urged the Legislature to consider the economic benefit of EPF investments in local communities, including projects funded through the Conservation Partnership Program.

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About the Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance is the national leader of America’s land trust movement, serving 1,700 nonprofit land trusts nationwide, including 90 organizations in New York. The Alliance works to accelerate the pace, increase the quality, and ensure the permanence of land conservation in New York and across the country. The Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. For information about the Land Trust Alliance and the Conservation Partnership Program, please visit www.landtrustalliance.org or contact Ethan Winter in the Alliance’s Northeast office at (518) 587-0774 (ext. 207) or at ewinter@lta.org.

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