Bill to Create Catskill Park Coordinator Sent to Hochul | Greene County

ALBANY — A bill by State Senator Michelle Hinchey that would codify Catskill Park’s first-ever coordinator role in Environmental Conservation Law awaits Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature after passing the Senate. and the Assembly.

If signed into law, the bill would make the position of Catskill Park Coordinator in the Department of Environmental Conservation permanent.

The coordinator role, which was first proposed in 1999 as part of the Catskill Forest Reserve Public Access Plan, aims to protect natural resources, promote tourism and protect visitor safety in the 705,500 acre Catskill Park.

The park spans Greene, Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware counties.

“The role of Catskill Park Coordinator is one I am proud to champion in the Senate and one our Forest Reserve communities have sought to create for decades because we know how deeply important it is to protect natural resources. of the Catskills, increasing the park’s accessibility for a new generation of explorers, and making nature-based tourism the cornerstone of our region’s economic well-being,” Hinchey said. “With the adoption of my proposed law by the state legislature, we are now moving closer to codifying the historic position of Catskill Park Coordinator in Environmental Conservation Law to ensure that our Catskill Park continues to benefit from this specialized role and its main objective to achieve our collective vision for the stewardship of the Catskills.

In November, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced the appointment of McCrea Burnham as Catskill Park Coordinator. The role is intended to serve as the park’s primary liaison with state and local governments, environmental groups and local businesses.

“It seems like a good idea and strikes a balance for tourism as well as protecting the park,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Wednesday of the legislation. “And he’s backed by other state officials, like (Assemblyman) Chris Tague. There is no financial information or budget data, so I’m not sure of the expenses. But tourism is important, while local communities managing the influx of visitors put additional pressure on local budgets. So balance is key.

The bill was co-sponsored by Tague in the Assembly.

During budget negotiations in Albany, Hinchey was able to help secure $8 million for stewardship and maintenance of Catskills and Adirondack parks, an increase of $6.5 million from the year’s total. last.

The Greene County portion of Catskill Park contains five of the park’s 10 highest peaks, as well as hiking trails and campgrounds.

“Passing this legislation is vital to the sustainability of Catskill Park, as well as surrounding communities,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Middletown, sponsor of the Catskill Park Coordinator Bill. “We have seen record numbers of people using and enjoying the Catskill Park and area over the past few years. Enshrining the position of Park Coordinator in law will help ensure the concerns of municipalities and conservationists are addressed and ensure Catskill Park remains an attraction for visitors and a resource for residents. for the coming years.

Hinchey said May 22 that she would run for re-election in the new 41st Senate District, which includes all of Greene and Columbia counties, as well as parts of Ulster and Dutchess counties.

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