ARKVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Catskill Park Coalition (CPC), which the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development co-chairs, is asking Governor Kathy Hochul to include several Catskill Park funding priorities in the Executive Budget proposal. The top three priorities are public safety and Catskill Park management, continued funding in the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and support for local economies.

A CPC spokesperson said these funding priorities secure protections for clean water, natural resources, and public health. In an emailed statement, the coalition added, “they also safeguard recreational access and quality of life for residents and visitors of the park.” The Catskill Center’s Executive Director recently penned a letter to Governor Hochul with CPC co-chair Catskill Mountainkeeper.

“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 CPC wants to see the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) adequately staffed, especially 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 letter stated.

The CPC 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. In addition, the CPC 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,” said Allison Dunne, a spokesperson for Catskill Center, in an emailed statement. The Catskill Stewards Program is a partnership with NYSDEC and Catskill Mountainkeeper.

The CPC, in its letter, advocates supporting local economies by improving cell service, expanding affordable housing, improving trail connectivity, and supporting the construction of Phase One of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad Corridor. The coalition also mentions working with the state to help implement the Environmental Bond Act in Catskill Park and the greater Catskills.