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Environmentalists argue protecting nature promotes NY economy

Marie Cusick
Deer costumes helped drive home the environmentalists' message: The Environmental Protection Fund creates jobs "one buck at a time."

Environmental advocates were in Albany on Monday to make the case that investing in the state’s natural resources is good economic sense.

Representatives from more than 50 organizations were there to support the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

The fund covers a variety of programs and services, including parks and recreation, solid waste and recycling, farmland and historic preservation, and waterfront revitalization.

This year, the governor’s proposed budget keeps EPF funding flat, at $134 million.

But environmentalists would like to see the EPF grow.

They pointed to the results of a new study from the Trust for Public Land, which found that for every dollar invested in the fund, New York reaps seven dollars in economic benefits.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, with the Nature Conservancy of New York, says one way to increase funding to the EPF is through the five cent bottle deposit.  Those funds currently go into the state’s General Fund, if not redeemed by the consumer.

“The right thing to do would be to dedicate that funding to programs that actually support the environment,” she says.

Other findings from the Trust for Public Land report include:

  • Outdoor recreation generates $800 million in state tax revenue and supports 130,000 jobs
  • Farmland preservation supports the state’s agricultural and food processing industry, which represents over 10 percent of the state’s gross economic output
  • Forest-related manufacturing contributed $4.5 billion to the state’s economy and provided 38,000 jobs
  • 56 million people visit a New York State Park each year, contributing $2 billion to the economy
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