Those who oversee some of Central New York’s historic sites and public lands are celebrating federal legislation that sets aside a $9.5 billion nationwide for restoration and preservation. The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law last month, which fully funds the Land and Water Conservation fund for the first time in decades at $900 million a year.
Robin Dropkin of Parks and Trails New York says it’s a long-overdue victory.
“Here we are just finishing the summer of 2020, which everybody in the world will remember as the summer of COVID. But us in the conservation community will completely remember it as the summer of the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act after more than 50 years of advocacy.”
Joseph Treglia is Director of the Chittenango Landing Boat Museum.
“We have seen increasing participation in parks and in our services this year in spite of what’s going on. In fact, because of it. People are getting outside looking for exercise, connections, and alternative education opportunities while schools have been restricted. They’re taking advantage of these things that we offer, and we feel a responsibility to offer these activities and services now more than ever, despite our own challenges in remaining open to the public.”
Derrick Pratt with the Erie Canal Museum explains how the expansion of the Erie Canalway Trail through Syracuse will bring even more people through the corridor.
"This act is going to make it even more about valuable resource for our community; for people to hike, bike, paddle, and, most importantly, they are going to learn about their past in ways that speak to the present and the future.”
Another beneficiary of the Great American Outdoors Act will be the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn. President and CEO Karen Hill says the legislation will get even more legs when it’s combined with other local economic activity.
“One of the things that really upsets me a lot is that we’ve had these economic recoveries throughout the country, then the state. Central New York has always been beautiful, yet lagging behind and so this bill can really be a part of, in a large way, achieve that synergy. “
Hill and the others on the Zoom conference made a point to thank Congressmembers John Katko and Anthony Brindisi for their efforts to push the measure through the House. The state’s outdoor recreation economy generates nearly $42 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 300,000 jobs.