New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today awarded $1,035,340 in Community Forest Conservation grants to four Capital Region, Hudson Valley, and Long Island towns. The grant program provides funding to communities to protect forest resources of local importance. With this funding, more than 200 acres of community forests will be established and protected from future development.
“Forest Conservation and sustainable management is an essential part of New York’s efforts to tackle climate change and protect water quality while also growing our forestry economy,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Thanks to continued support from Governor Hochul and the State Legislature, DEC is excited to provide this critical assistance to local governments to acquire and establish community forests, and looks forward to continuing to grow our forests of the future.”
The Community Forest Conservation Grant Program is administered by DEC as part of New York's ongoing efforts to meet Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals to conserve forests and combat climate change by increasing the rate of forest protection. The program also supports the goal of New York’s 30 by 30 law – to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and water by 2030, which in turn contributes to the national 30 by 30 goals set through President Joseph Biden’s “America the Beautiful” Initiative.
Funding for the grant program was provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which provides critical funding 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 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Hochul maintained EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history.
Today’s awarded projects:
- Town of Bethlehem, Albany County: $195,000 for the acquisition of 68 acres of forested and non-forested lands in Selkirk, town of Bethlehem, Albany County. The forest cover is primarily mixed hardwood species with some stands of white pine near a ravine.
- Town of Germantown, Columbia County: $240,340 for the acquisition of 23 acres adjacent to the town of Germantown Palatine Park and the historic First Reformed Church of Germantown parsonage. This project will extend a trail network, provide easy access from nearby parking areas, and expand recreational opportunities for the town’s approximate 2,000 residents.
- Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County: $300,000 for the acquisition of 33 acres. This parcel contains rolling to steep topography and is surrounded by Manorville Hills County Park, located within the core of the Central Pine Barrens. The parcel is surrounded by hiking and mountain biking trails and fire roads.
- Town of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County: $300,000 for the acquisition of 95 acres on two forested parcels referred to as the “North 100.” The land contains a mature oak forest, undulating terrain with rocky outcrops and ridges, areas of small wetlands and seasonal streams, and a small open meadow. This acquisition will preserve green spaces, conserve critical habitats, and create new recreational amenities for the community.
For more information on DEC’s Community Forest Conservation Grant Program, visit DEC's website.