With the desire to raise increased awareness of the Commission and its work to protect open space and offer recreation and education programs as well as to improve our facilities, the Palisades Parks Conservancy, dba Friends of the Palisades, was created.
Education, and recreation form the core of the Conservancy's services. Since its inception in 1900, more than 100,000 acres of forest, wildlife habitats, and cultural resources in New York and New Jersey have been entrusted to us. We greet more than nine million visitors each year.
There is so much more to do! Unfortunately, though, following the funding trend of the past 50 years for both national and state parks, government allocations for Palisades Interstate Park Commission have been drastically reduced. Although our responsibility continues to be to conserve open space, protect our natural and cultural resources, and provide recreation to millions, we are doing and working with less financial resources. For example, Palisades has a list of deferred maintenance projects that exceeds $50 million, due to the lack of funding for capital projects and rehabilitation.
The Park has evolved, and our founding mission of protecting the Palisades cliffs has also evolved into a much broader program. Today's PIPC offers a wide array of recreational facilities, from boat launches and beaches to golf courses and campgrounds. The Commission also manages eight historic sites, among them New York's Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site, the first publicly-owned historic house in the nation, and Fort Lee Historic Park in New Jersey.
That evolution has not altered our basic philosophy, however. We still protect land to preserve its beauty and provide recreational opportunities in order to promote contact with nature. We still preserve historic sites to share our heritage. In other words, we are, more than ever, stewards for the public.