New York Announces Competitive Grants for Parks and Trails

The New York State Park and Trail Partnership's grants program has announced a new round of competitive grants. The requests for proposals will be accepted starting January 25. The announcement was made on Saturday, January 23. The program aims to help organizations, which it calls friends groups, offer support to parks, trails, historic sites and public lands in the state of New York.

About the Grants

The program is offering up to $1 million in grant funds. The program will be administered by the Park and Trail Partnership of New York. The New York Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will coordinate the administration of the grants. The partnership aims to bring in new and expand upon existing partnerships to maintain recreation, historical and exercise sites on public land in New York.

What the Grant Program Aims to Do

There are several missions of this $1 million grant program. The first is to boost the preservation, stewardship, interpretation, maintenance and promotion of parks, trails, historical sites and public properties in the state of New York. The grants also strive to increase environmental education for people of all ages. The funds should increase the sustainability and effectiveness efforts of nonprofit organizations that do work in these areas. The administrators also hope that the grants will increase productivity, volunteer levels and the fundraising capacity of those nonprofit groups. Finally, the grants are supposed to promote tourism and economic development related to outdoor recreation. To do this, the grants will help grow and expand the existing network of green spaces, trails, parks and public lands throughout the state. The state may want to purchase parcels that will connect separated segments of green spaces and nature trails.

History of the Grant Program

This grant program is in its sixth year. It was established in 2015 with the goal of strengthening New York parks, maintaining historical sites and safeguarding undeveloped public lands. Since its inception, the grant program has distributed $2.7 million to partnering nonprofit organizations.

How Nonprofits Can Apply for the Grant Funds

The applications for this round of funding are due on March 11. Applications should be submitted online in accordance with the instructions available at Prospective applicants can read more about the grants and the timeline of applications. The organizations plan to announce the grant awards in June.

Why These Grants Are Important

During tough economic times, the funding of parks and historical sites is often cut or even eliminated. The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated budget issues for local and state governments. These grant funds could help replace some of the public support that cities and the state of New York were not able to provide to the parks and recreational facilities. Nonprofits are also hurting as a result of the pandemic. Their donations are down, and demand for services continues to increase.

What Parks Mean to the Nearby Communities

Access to parks, trails and other outdoor recreational facilities is more important now than it has ever been. With the ongoing pandemic, many people are still reluctant to visit a gym, indoor rock climbing wall or similar place where the cleaning may not be up to their standards or where germs may not be filtered out by the facility's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Exercising outdoors may be the best option for people who do not have their own exercise equipment.

Spending time outdoors has also been proven to be a mood lifter. The pandemic has caused an increase in the rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Going outdoors and seeing nature, breathing fresh air, getting some sunshine and moving the body is good for physical and mental health. The body will make less cortisol, which is a powerful hormone that contributes to widespread inflammation.

Going outside also helps people sleep better. Insomnia is a common problem, and issues such as anxiety make it worse. If a person is able to go outdoors, take a walk on a trail, sit on a bench and do some bird watching, then play with a flying disc on some green space, they'll get some of the recommended daily exercise their body needs. The sunlight exposure and exercise will both help with getting a better night's rest. People are also happier with their communities when there are safe, well-maintained parks and trails they can use.

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