Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) have announced the release of the NYS Greenway Trails Progress Report (August 2021 – December 2022), which outlines the accomplishments made, the projects initiated and the funding secured by state, local and nonprofit partners in that timeframe. The report identifies 97.1 miles of new trails completed and 372.7 additional miles of trail in progress in that period.
The new report demonstrates progress made toward completing the goals of New York’s Statewide Greenway Trails Plan, published in April 2021. This plan spelled out a vision of a “network of shared use paths that provide all New Yorkers and visitors opportunities for healthy and active recreation, routes for alternative transportation and the ability to connect to and enrich our communities and natural landscapes in urban, suburban and rural settings.”
Major highlights for greenway trails across NYS include the advancement of the Empire State Trail as a high quality, world-class destination trail, with several surface upgrades completed across the corridor, as well as many significant construction projects and planning initiatives underway to better connect communities with the statewide trail. Efforts have also been made over the last two years to activate the Empire State Trail – the longest single-state multi-use trail in the nation – by developing new trip-planning resources, augmenting programs and events to encourage residents and visitors alike to engage with the trail in new ways.
In 2022, for example, Parks & Trails New York launched the Empire State Trail Town program to promote the trail and the communities along it as a destination and build the outdoor recreation economy along the corridor.
Other major corridors to see significant investment over the last two years include the Adirondack Rail Trail, which, when complete, will run 34 stunning miles through the central Adirondacks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, and the Genesee Valley Greenway, a 90-mile corridor in western New York running south from Rochester to Hinsdale. In conjunction with these physical improvements, both the Adirondack Rail Trail and Genesee Valley Greenway have robust coalitions behind them to support the growth of the trails as well as the vibrant communities along them.
Several major planning efforts have also advanced, especially concentrated in the state’s most populous regions. Planning for phase one of the future Long Island Greenway has started and New York City was awarded a federal transportation planning grant for a major expansion of the greenway network with a focus on historically underserved, lower-income communities. In the Hudson Valley, a greenway vision plan was published, outlining the opportunity to create a truly regional, 250+ mile network of greenways in the Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties.
Exciting new funding opportunities are providing additional momentum for greenway trail projects. The new federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, authorizes record funding to the Transportation Alternatives program, maintains the Recreational Trails Program and introduces a new Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program.
At the state level, record funding amounts for NYS Parks’ capital budget and for the Environmental Protection Fund are advancing critical projects, and the newly authorized Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act may provide additional critical investment in greenway trail projects.
“Not only does this report provide a snapshot of the investments that we’ve made to develop and rehabilitate greenway trails over the last year, but it has helped pave a clear path for realizing a truly interconnected network of greenway trails across the state. We hope this report will generate a lot of buzz among stakeholders about the steps we need to take, as a collective, to carry out this vision,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Parks & Trails New York.
“The trail improvements demonstrated in this report undoubtedly offer more New York residents and visitors the opportunity to explore our state’s incredible scenery and must-visit communities. Sharing the progress made on the greenway trails network in such a transparent way is necessary to compel further investment and expand recreational and economic opportunities throughout the state, and State Parks is grateful to PTNY and all of the partners involved in these projects,” State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said.
To read the full report, visit https://www.ptny.org/application/files/5216/8572/5879/Greenway_Trails_Progress_Report_Aug_2021-Dec_2022.pdf.
Parks & Trails New York is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving our health, economy and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space. PTNY works to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails and open spaces throughout our state for use and enjoyment by all. For more information, visit www.ptny.org.