In the News  Archive

Adk Council: "the Park did well" in proposed state budget

January 26, 2015
NCPR
By Zach Hirsch

In his combined State of the State and budget address last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo made scant references to New York's North Country, including a few moments when he recognized soldiers at the Fort Drum military base.

Governor Cuomo did not mention the Adirondack Park or the environmental advocates working to preserve it, but at least one green group was pleased with the governor’s address.

That group is the Adirondack Council — the largest and best funded environmental organization working on conservation issues in the park. It applauded Governor Cuomo when he said he intends to boost the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. “We want to increase the Environmental Protection Fund to $172 million,” Cuomo said. The fund covers cleanup, land conservation projects, and outdoor recreational programs across New York State. Cuomo’s plan would add about $10 million more than last year to those programs.

“Any increase is something that we have to be grateful for and I think that we’re going to say thank you and then ask again next year for another increase,” said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
Sheehan said the Council is happy with Cuomo mostly because of a set of assurances that were not in the State of the State speech. On paper and buried in the details of Cuomo ’s 2015 budget plan, the governor made half a dozen of what Sheehan calls “pro-Adirondack proposals.”

Among Cuomo’s proposals is a pledge to prevent the spread of invasive species throughout the region. “The governor’s staff assured the Adirondack Council that there is a million dollars being set aside this year to put together a strategy for controlling invasive species park-wide, and that is something that we’re pleased to hear,” Sheehan said.

Cuomo also wants to bring a billion-dollar broadband expansion program to New York State, some of which would benefit small mountain towns inside the Blue Line. Sheehan said it would improve the quality of life for people living in the park.

Cuomo also plans to add more staff to the Department of Environmental conservation, including eight people dedicated to oil spill prevention. “There are things New York can do to better prepare in the event of a problem, and that appears to be what the governor is trying to do here,” Sheehan said. He said he is grateful Cuomo’s budget does not ignore the issue of trains carrying potentially explosive crude oil through the Adirondacks. He said however, New York State could do more. “We worry every day that there’s going to be a problem with the rail lines.” He said the Council would like the state to expand the scope of a pending environmental impact study to include the Adirondack Park.

Sheehan said overall, he thinks things are moving in a positive direction for conservation initiatives in the park. He said the next step for the Council is to make sure the Cuomo administration follows through and actually gets these measures approved in the legislature

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