Since the very first Earth Day back in 1970, we have marked April 22nd as a day to celebrate the importance of our natural environment, and to rededicate ourselves to ensuring clean air and water, open spaces, and green, healthy communities.
Similarly, Arbor Day, which falls on Friday April 25th, was established in 1872 as a way to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees that would provide shade, shelter, food, fuel and beauty to the nation's open spaces. In 1907, former New York Governor and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt issued an "An Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States" highlighting the importance of forestry and trees to our nation's well-being.
And I am pleased to report that both Earth Day 2014 and Arbor Day 2014 come just a few weeks after the enactment of a new State Budget that reflects my strong commitment to protecting and enhancing New York’s natural resources. The new 2014-15 State Budget makes major new investments in important environmental initiatives that will benefit communities throughout the entire State. For example:
• It includes $162 million for New York’s vital Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a major increase of $9 million. This EPF funding will be used to support a wide array of essential projects that help protect open spaces and ensure clean air and water for millions of New Yorkers.
• It delivers an additional $92.5 million in critical funding for improvements to parks and historic sites -- helping to improve the quality of life in communities across the State.
• It also includes $40 million in “NY Works” funding for additional environmental infrastructure improvements in areas such as flood control, clean-ups and restoration projects.
Healthy families and healthy communities depend on clean air, clean water and the quality of our natural environment, and these major new investments are an important step in the right direction.
On Earth day, Arbor Day, and every day, let's keep making our environment a top priority.