New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced more than $956,000 in awards to four towns in western and central New York and Long Island to establish community forests. Protecting forests from potential development and establishing new forested areas helps preserve biodiversity and safeguard the ecosystem benefits forests provide, such as storm water mitigation, temperature regulation, carbon sequestration, and climate resiliency. In addition, community forests bring community benefits by creating new opportunities for public access and recreation.
“New York State continues to bolster support for conserving and sustainably managing local forests, which will provide a wide range of ecosystem, community, and climate benefits,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Thanks to Governor Hochul and the State Legislature growing the Environmental Protection Fund
s and providing resources for this important initiative, DEC is supporting local efforts to acquire and establish community forests.”
The inaugural round of the Community Forest Conservation Program grants represents an important step forward in providing key resources for communities to protect forest resources of local importance. The Community Forest Conservation Grants, administered by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), support New York’s ongoing initiatives to meet its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals by increasing the rate of forest protection to keep forests as forests and combat climate change as recommended in the Climate Action Council’s draft Scoping Plan.
Funded projects include:
- Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County: $225,000 to acquire 11.3 acres
- Town of Lewiston, Niagara County: $300,000 to acquire 66.9 acres
- Town of Webster, Monroe County: $270,089 to acquire 28.7 acres
- Town of Whitestown, Oneida County: $161,100 to acquire 15.9 acres
Funding for this grant program was provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a critical resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects. Among the many environmental victories in the 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Hochul succeeded in increasing the EPF from $300 to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects our water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
A second round of Community Forest Conservation Grant funding is expected to be released in the second half of 2023 to continue to support local community forest land acquisition. For more information on this program, visit here.