This award is given in recognition of successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails.
The PTNY is dedicated to improving the health, economy, and quality of life of all New Yorker's through the use and enjoyment of green space since 1985. PTNY has worked with hundreds of community organizations and municipalities to envision, create, promote, and protect a growing network of parks and more than 1,500 miles of greenways, bike paths, and other trails throughout New York State.
Trails advocacy is at the core of all of PTNY’s efforts: its technical assistance to local communities, promotion of trails for sustainable tourism and economic development, and spearheading support for funding of trails tourism, maintenance, and development.
Through its Healthy Trails, Healthy People Program, PTNY makes physical activity more accessible for all New Yorkers and improves local economies by helping communities that wish to build new trails or promote and increase use of existing trails. Since June 2010, PTNY has assisted 11 rural and urban low income communities with planning, public outreach, grant writing, fundraising, and organizational development efforts. PTNY also provides telephone and email assistance, a monthly electronic newsletter, and how-to guides on a number of topics for trail advocates and professionals. In 2011, PTNY partnered with a regional land trust to present a two-day trails conference that offered field workshops, keynote speakers, seminars, panel discussions and networking opportunities for more than 150 persons.
Recognizing that long-term success of trail projects is often tied to the strength of nonprofit friends groups, PTNY annually provides funding for park and trail nonprofit organizations to assist them with communications, fundraising, and volunteer/membership recruitment efforts through its Growing the Grassroots Capacity Building Grants program.
PTNY is one of the state’s primary promoters for trail tourism and the economic benefits it can generate. Each year PTNY organizes Cycling the Erie Canal, an eight-day, 400-mile bike ride from Buffalo to Albany on the Erie Canalway Trail. The event attracts more than 500 participants from across the nation as well as around the world to experience the iconic Erie Canal.
PTNY also hosts the week-long 200-mile Great Hudson Valley Pedal which draws 150 national and international riders to experience the trails, the majestic scenery, and historic communities between Albany and New York City. Both bike tours are designed to add to local economies: riders are encouraged to eat and shop in local communities and PTNY contracts with civic organizations to provide breakfasts, dinners, transportation, and entertainment.
To further attract trail-based tourism dollars to local economies, in August 2012, PTNY launched its newest publication, Cycling the Hudson Valley: A Guide to history, art and nature on the east and west sides of the majestic Hudson River. The guidebook provides maps and information on attractions, services, trails, and cycling routes in the Hudson Valley. In July 2012, PTNY released the third, updated version of its popular guidebook, Cycling the Erie Canal: A Guide to 400 Miles of Adventure and History Along the Erie Canalway Trail, which has sold 15,000 copies since first published in 2005. PTNY annually hosts a Bicyclists Bring Business roundtable and a “bike around” in Canalway Trail communities to assist local businesses, tourism officials, and community leaders with tips on how to market as well as profit from the cycling tourist. These events are based extensively on PTNY’s publication, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canalway Trail Communities. In 2012, PTNY also launched an in-depth study of the economic impacts of the Canalway Trail based on surveys of more than 600 trail users, trailside businesses, and local government and tourism officials. Results will be available in December 2012.
Working in conjunction with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation & the New York State Trails Council, PTNY organized volunteers to conduct a statewide trails count for 13 multi-use trails across the state in August 2012. PTNY will use the data from this initial effort to not only begin to build a body of data on the volume of trail use but also to demonstrate more objectively to decision makers the popularity of New York’s multi-use trails and their economic impact.
In the last two years, PTNY has undertaken two major trail advocacy efforts in addition to its postings on Facebook and Twitter, news articles, and letters to the editor. Most recently, PTNY led nearly 100 prominent New York nonprofits to sign a letter to New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urging that he preserve the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). When PTNY later learned that the RTP was potentially in jeopardy, in a few days it rallied almost 600 individual supporters to sign post cards to the Governor. New York retained the RTP ensuring continued trail funding.
PTNY recognized that the Erie Canalway Trail could be an economic engine for economically hard hit communities and that it would be most effective if the trail were fully complete. Therefore, in the fall of 2010 it launched its “Closing the Gaps” campaign, in conjunction with the office of United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to call attention to the six remaining gaps (totaling 80 miles) in the 365-mile trail. Well-attended roundtables held across the trail corridor spawned smaller work groups focused on finding creative solutions for getting more trail built. Since November 2010, PTNY has produced the annual Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail to keep tabs on progress. With the statewide leadership of PTNY and partners, the Closing the Gaps Campaign is producing results: 18 new miles of trail are planned or under construction, including an eight-mile key gap in western New York. In addition, the City of Syracuse is actively working on a short-term on-road and longer term, primarily off-road trail route for an existing 12 mile gap.