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Scenic Hudson Applauds Gov. Cuomo’s Investments in Protecting the Environment

Kingston waterfront, aerial view of AVR (photo by Pierce Johnston)
Property on Kingston's riverfront protected by Scenic Hudson in October 2019.

Ned Sullivan, President, 914 489 4630
Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy, 914 489 1568

For immediate release: January 8, 2020

HUDSON VALLEY—Scenic Hudson today praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address for taking bold steps that will help to protect, restore and connect people to the Hudson Valley’s irreplaceable scenic, ecological and agricultural assets, and for making important investments in programs that will enhance water quality and speed up the development of renewable energy.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo’s proposals that support protecting the environment of the Hudson Valley and New York State. The Hudson Valley possesses incredible natural resources, and it is critical to continue investing in them to sustain the many community benefits they provide. From majestic landscapes offering recreational opportunities that help fuel our regional tourism economy to working family farms that supply fresh food and are helping to fight climate change to the inspirational power of the Hudson River itself, the valley is full of promise and making a difference in the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

“Scenic Hudson welcomes the governor’s proposals that further his commitment to preserving and restoring the environment of New York State and the Hudson Valley, and we look forward to working with legislators and the communities they represent to build support for these and other policy priorities,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Public Policy and Special Projects Andy Bicking.

Restore Mother Nature Bond Act and land conservation programs 

The governor has proposed the $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act to conserve and restore New York’s natural resources, which benefit residents’ health and help sustain the state’s $38-billion tourism economy. Statistics indicate that each $1 invested in New York State parks delivers a $5 return in economic activity. The program, announced last fall, will include the Hudson River and begin to reverse damage done to natural areas in the past, making them cleaner and safer for people and wildlife. 

Open space acquisition

A portion of funding from the new bond act would enable the state to acquire the 508 acres Scenic Hudson conserved last October on the Hudson Riverfront in Kingston, Ulster County. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will partner with Scenic Hudson to create a new park, which will include a critical portion of the Empire State Trail.

“Scenic Hudson applauds Governor Cuomo for making the protection of this special place a priority of his Restore Mother Nature initiative to restore damaged natural resources and provide exciting new opportunities for the public to connect with them. This project represents the win-win potential—for the environment and the economy—made possible by the governor’s visionary initiative. Scenic Hudson pledges to work with him, state agencies, the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster to ensure this project is a model of brownfield restoration that is responsive to the goals and meets the needs of the community,” said Mr. Sullivan.

In addition, funding from the state and the federal Hudson Highlands Conservation Act will be available for the transfer to the state of 945 acres on Scofield Ridge that Scenic Hudson protected in 2018. For decades the highest-priority conservation project in the Hudson Highlands, this land would be added to Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, permanently securing access to a trail linking two of the region’s most popular hiking destinations—Breakneck Ridge and Mount Beacon. 

“Open space provides multiple benefits to Hudson Valley communities, including recreation and climate resilience, and acts as a catalyst for economic development. This project in the Hudson Highlands is a prime example. Scenic Hudson looks forward to collaborating with the Department of Environmental Conservation to maximize the benefits this addition to Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve can provide to local communities, the region and the state,” said Mr. Sullivan.

New river-based tourism opportunities and community access 

Also as part of the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, Gov. Cuomo calls for creation of Hudson Eagles State Recreation Area, a linear park spanning approximately 30 miles of the Hudson Riverfront between Rensselaer, Rensselaer County, and Hudson, Columbia County. Features of the recreation area would include improvements to five existing boat launches to accommodate trailered vessels and new waterfront “pocket parks” to enhance public access to the river.

“The governor’s call to create this totally unique outdoor recreation area based on the Hudson River is both innovative and exciting. It will build new opportunities for riverfront communities to benefit from the state’s vibrant outdoor recreation economy that generates $3.5 billion annually in direct local spending. Scenic Hudson looks forward to working with local communities, state agencies and the governor to make this unprecedented access to the Hudson River a reality,” said Mr. Bicking.

Programs to expedite development of renewable energy 

Gov. Cuomo also pledged increased investment in renewable energy and transmission infrastructure and the workforce to meet climate goals.

“Scenic Hudson stands behind the goals of the governor and Legislature to expedite renewable energy in New York. Meeting the state’s nation-leading climate goals will require significant acceleration of the pace of renewable energy development. We welcome proposals by the governor to support smart energy planning and make sure that future renewable developments also meet local goals and minimize impacts to important natural resources,” said Mr. Bicking.

Scenic Hudson has been a leader in making the Hudson Valley a regional model for embracing renewable energy. In the last few years, it has participated as a stakeholder in numerous discussions on renewable energy development, published the Clean Energy, Green Communities guide to siting renewable energy, convened the sold-out Solar Smart Hudson Valley symposium and a Roadmap to a Clean Energy Future, which makes policy recommendations to the state for how to expedite siting of renewable energy infrastructure. This summer, the organization will release a solar zoning handbook and a comprehensive GIS-based solar siting decision support tool.

Kingston waterfront, aerial view of AVR (photo by Pierce Johnston)
Quarry Waters property, looking south. Photo by Pierce Johnston.