How Birds Fare in the New State Budget

Jun 15, 2023 | The Sandpiper

Environmental Protection Fund gets another $400 million, and more good news for New York’s birds.

Environmental Protection Fund. New York State has committed another $400 million in funding for the EPF, which provides critical support for environmental programs, including Audubon’s nature centers and sanctuaries. EPF funding is a solid investment that provides good-paying jobs, drives economic growth, and protects vulnerable wildlife and their habitats. We are pleased that the proposed language allowing funds from the EPF to be spent on staffing for state agencies was not included as part of the final budget proposal. 

Funding Clean Water Infrastructure. New York State’s investments in clean water infrastructure have funded significant improvements to our wastewater and drinking water systems. The final budget provides an additional $500 million in funding for water quality and clean water infrastructure, and also calls for creating Community Assistance Teams to assist with outreach to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities. This proposal will help ensure that birds and people have access to
clean water.

Capitol for State Parks and the DEC. The final budget includes $202.5 million for the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and $90 million for the Department of Environmental Conservation. This funding will help provide critical maintenance and upgrades to State facilities, investments in natural or green infrastructure, and support for habitat improvement projects. Additionally, this funding supports the continued enhancement of the New York State Birding Trail, which is being overseen by the DEC’S Adventure NY program.

Acting on Climate. Fifty percent of bird species are predicted to be either “climate-threatened” or “climate endangered” by 2080, including at least fifty species in New York State. We can help fight climate change and support a responsible clean energy transition by continuing to electrify our economy and developing an aggressive plan to reduce carbon emissions. The final budget includes a “Cap and Invest” strategy that would place an economy-wide tax on carbon and several proposals that would phase out the use of fossil fuels in buildings. 

Keeping Our Forests Healthy. Overbrowsing by deer has an outsized impact on forest health – destroying critical habitat for declining woodland bird species and decreasing our forests’ ability to store carbon. As a science-based organization, we support evidence-based wildlife management strategies that utilize hunting as an effective management tool. The final budget included provisions that will extend the youth hunting pilot program until 2025 in order to support the next generation
of hunters.

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