Letter: EPF Boosts Vitality of Communities

Mega-storms Sandy, Irene and Lee taught us a very hard lesson: We cannot take our river, open spaces and working landscapes for granted. Preserving these “green” assets is a community and state responsibility. The state primarily invests in protecting these resources through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

The EPF is funded through a percentage of the real estate transfer tax. With a return of $7 for every $1 dollar invested, the fund has facilitated a successful track record in protecting drinking water supplies and local family farms, planning for sea level rise and revitalizing downtown riverfronts, saving open space and creating parks, all without raising our taxes. In recent years, inadequate EPF funding has left these natural treasures vulnerable. With the economy’s ongoing turnaround, including the real estate market, it’s time to strengthen the EPF so its programs can provide small investments that support collaborative government, nonprofit and business efforts to boost healthy and prosperous communities.

Local and regional plans recognize that a stable financial future depends on further developing the Hudson Valley’s outdoor recreation industries, part of the region’s $4.3 billion tourism economy that sustains 80,000 jobs. Increasing investment in the EPF will translate immediately into more local initiatives that provide lasting benefits to local economies.

Please contact our elected representatives in Albany and ask them to support economic development and resource protection by putting $200 million into the Environmental Protection Fund this year and support increases to Hudson Estuary Management, Protecting Our Open Spaces and Farmlands, and programs that revitalize the Hudson’s riverfront.

Andy Chmar
Executive Director
Hudson Highlands Land Trust

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