(WBNG) -- More people visited New York state parks in 2020 than ever before, and now those parks are getting a huge financial boost.
The environmental advocacy group Parks and Trails New York told 12 News Friday the recently approved state budget will potentially include more than $3.5B in funding for environmental causes.
Most of this money (roughly $3B) is devoted to the Restore Mother Nature Environmental Bond Act, which would prepare the state's public lands for the future. Unlike the vast majority of items in the budget, however, the group said this initiative will need to be approved by voters in 2022.
Other initiatives being funded include state park restoration, expanding access to public lands, and educational programming.
Will Cote, the parks programming director for Parks and Trails New York, said he hopes the investment in public spaces will encourage more people to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors.
"I really hope that people utilize the vast breadth of public lands that are available to them," Cote said. "Typically people just think of a state park or something in their community, but then they're not thinking about the campgrounds, the state forests, and those other protected lands they can access."
The state park system had 78 million visits in 2020.