In the News  Archive

Environmental Groups Pleased with NY Legislative Session

WNBZ
June 23, 2014

The Adirondack Council is applauding the New York State Legislature for passing two bills to help the Adirondacks and its communities cope with the effects of climate change and to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. In a statement emailed to WNBZ, The Adirondack Council also says they’re pleased with the state Assembly for halting a bill that would have increased the size of all-terrain vehicles that could be registered for use on public roads and trails.

The Council’s Executive Director Willie Janeway says “The legislative successes on invasive species, climate change, halting an increase in the size of ATVs, and confirming Booth to the APA, were important wins for the Adirondacks,” and he continued by saying “We thank the Governor, Assembly and Senate leaders, the sponsors of these bills and legislators from both parties, as well as our advocacy partners from the Adirondacks and across the state. Together we’ve made real progress. We also highlighted some transformational actions and next steps that are still needed to secure the future of the Adirondack Park and its communities.”

If signed by the Governor, the Community Risk and Resiliency Act will help communities to better prepare for the consequences of climate change by requiring state agencies that issue permits for development projects to incorporate increased storm-water runoff, sea-level rise and other likely events into the planning for new infrastructure such as roads, bridges, landscaped drainage, and sewer systems.

“The environment and communities of the Adirondacks have been hit hard by more frequent and intense storm events as a result of climate change, damaging homes and vital infrastructure,” said Janeway. “This bill will reshape the way our state addresses the impacts of a changing climate.”

If approved by the Governor, the Aquatic Invasive Species Act would require boaters to clean, drain and dry watercraft and gear when entering and leaving any public boat launch. The spread of invasive species threatens clean water, aquatic ecosystems, and the tourism-based economy of the Adirondacks. The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, and Sen. Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats.

“The Adirondack Council supported this legislation,” said Adirondack Council Legislative Director Kevin Chlad. “With New York State being at the epicenter of invasive species infestations, it is crucial that we prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by requiring the decontamination of boats before launch. The commitment to pass this bill was impressive. It shows broad support for the follow-up transformational increase in dedicated funding that is needed for invasive species research, education, prevention, eradication and management.”

A bill that would have increased the size of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that may be registered for trail and road use from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds was approved by the Senate but held by the Assembly. The bill would also have allowed the registration of utility-task vehicles (UTVs) that carry multiple passengers and cargo. The Adirondack Council praised the Assembly for refusing to approve this bill, that was part of a push for expanded ATVs access to public lands that didn’t include steps needed to address resource protection, education, compliance, and safety issues.

“We extend our thanks to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of both parties in the Assembly and Senate working to defend the Adirondack Park, and other natural areas around the state, against negative impacts from more and larger off-road vehicles,” said Chlad. “Our roads and trails are already being damaged by ATVs that weigh 1,000 pounds and less. Adding larger ATVs and multi-passenger UTVs to the mix would have been irresponsible without better safeguards, including improved enforcement.

“We were pleased to work with a large coalition of groups including environmental conservation officers and forest rangers in objecting to this bill,” Chlad continued.

The Council does not oppose properly regulated motorized access in specific locations. “We respect the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, and the advocates who disagreed with us on this issue, and hope to work with a broad coalition going forward on developing an effective solution to the existing problems caused by inappropriate ATV use,” Chlad said.

In addition to legislation, the Senate confirmed the Governor’s nomination of Dick Booth to another term on the APA Board.
“Commissioner Booth has been and continues to be an important advocate for and expert on Adirondack Park issues, and we appreciate his service to the Park and the state,” said Janeway.

Chlad also praised the Senate and Assembly for approving the “Dark Skies Bill,” which regulates outdoor lighting to benefit wildlife and preserve night sky viewing. If signed by the Governor, this bill will establish purchasing requirements for lights installed or maintained by state government. This bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, and Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset.

“The Adirondack Council urges Governor Cuomo to sign into law the Community Resiliency, Invasive Species and Dark Skies bills when they reach his desk,” said Janeway.

Commenting on the larger Adirondack agenda, including actions that remain to be done, Janeway said: “Before the legislative session started in January, the Council identified five priorities that are part of a multi-year effort to achieve more than just incremental progress. The goal is transformational change that secures the future of the Adirondack Park, its ecological integrity, wild character, clean water and air, vibrant communities, and working landscapes.

“These priorities included restoration of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $200 million; funding for infrastructure and improved state land stewardship; restoration of key Adirondack Park Agency and environmental agency staff,” he said. “We also wanted state government to address priority issues including climate change, invasive species, improvements for the Adirondack Park Agency Act, and ATV enforcement.

Earlier in this session, the EPF was increased by $9 million to $162 million. Priority legislation on climate change was approved and ATV bills opposed by the Council were not passed. Progress was made with passage of aquatic invasive species legislation, but unfortunately, a large increase in funding for invasive species was not approved, an agreement on improvements to the APA Act was not reached, and ATV issues still need to be addressed.

Janeway summarized: “This session had many successes, but also left all who care about the Adirondacks with more to do to better protect the Adirondack Park’s environment and help its communities.”

Among the many other bills considered by the Senate and/or the Assembly that the Adirondack Council supported, but which did not pass both houses, were:

ATV Ban on the Forest Preserve: Would ban the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the Forest Preserve of the Adirondack and Catskill parks, as well as on the Long Island Pine Barrens and Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Sponsors: Steven Englebright, D-Setauket, and Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson.

Micro-bead Ban: Would prohibit the manufacture, production and sale of plastic micro-beads in consumer goods. Tiny plastic pellets from cosmetic products such as hand soap and facial-scrub enter the Adirondack Park’s lakes and rivers every day and do not break down in septic systems or sewage treatment facilities. Sponsors: Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, and Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo.

Mercury-Laden Rotational Balancing Products Ban: Would prohibit the sale and use of vehicle wheel-balancing weights containing mercury, the disposal of which is one of the largest remaining sources of new mercury contamination around landfills and dump sites. Sponsors: Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, and Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo.

Child Safe Products Act: Would permit the Department of Environmental Conservation, in consultation with the Department of Health, to regulate toxic chemicals in children’s products.Chemicals in popular flame retardants, plastics and electronics are affecting the health of birds and amphibians in the Adirondack Park. Sponsors: Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, and Sen. Philip Boyle, R-Bay Shore.

Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council is privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities.

The Council carries out its mission and vision through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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