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Adirondack Council Praises State Environmental Budget

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2016

Adirondack Council Praises State Environmental Budget
Thanks Governor, Legislative Leaders for Increased Environmental Protection Fund, New Invasive Species Programs, more Clean Water Grants for Communities

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today praised government leaders for approving a state budget that increases appropriations for the Environmental Protection Fund, enhances programs to fight invasive species and helps communities build needed clean water infrastructure.

“New York’s Adirondack Park, is a national treasure and a global legacy for us and future generations” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “This historic budget enhances that legacy with a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, $350 million for clean water infrastructure grants, and more. It is a blueprint for how the nation should invest in water, wildlife, wilderness and communities.”

Janeway commended Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-East Northport, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx for producing a budget that includes record levels of funding for crucial environmental and community initiatives.

“This budget funds the Environmental Protection Fund or EPF at $300 million for the first time in its 22-year history,” said Janeway. “This $123 million increase, combined with strong policies and agencies, will protect the beauty, charm and allure of the Adirondacks for generations to come.”

The final budget also adds $200 million to the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, bringing total authorized spending up to $350 million over the next two years. This provides grants to replace small-town sewage systems, and for other community drinking and waste water projects, bridging the gap between what the communities need and what they can afford.”

Many of the budget’s environmental funding programs will also help improve the Adirondack Park’s economy and cut costs to local taxpayers, Janeway explained.

Funds to combat invasive species more than doubles to $12 million (from $5.8 million) and will assist communities and regional organizations such as the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, including $450,000 to fight invasive species in Lake George

In addition the EPF provides $40 million for open space acquisitions, which is a 50-percent increase from this year’s $26.5 million appropriation. Farmland protection funding for conservation easements would increase from $15 million to $20 million.

State land stewardship would increase from $18.5 million to $28 million. The EPF also contains a new $24-million climate change category that will fund community projects to improve community resiliency ($14 million); boost the Climate Resilient Farms program (from $500,000 to $2.5 million); and, encourage smart growth (up from $600,000 to $2 million).

Another important new addition provides $7 million in environmental justice funding for inner-city and underserved communities, which will support air quality monitoring, environmental job training, and the reduction of exposure to environmental harms, as well as a new Connect Kids Outdoor Recreation Program ($500,000).

In addition to the major statewide funding, EPF programs that benefit Adirondack wilderness protection and Adirondack hamlets, some of the EPF is aimed at specific communities.

Local Waterfront Revitalization Program funding increased from $12.5m to $16m. For the first time, this includes funds to update local waterfront plans to mitigate climate risks with an appropriation of $2 million. This also includes $660,000 targeted for projects in the Adirondack towns of Newcomb, Indian Lake and Minerva.

Other local funding includes a grant to Essex County in the amount of $300,000 and another to Hamilton County for $150,000 aimed at landfill closure/capping costs and landfill gas management. Another $500,000 is set aside in a separate capital projects account for pre-closure and post-closure costs Adirondack landfills, in accordance with an agreement with Essex County. Both counties’ landfills are closed.

On promoting tourism, the state’s economic development agencies will implement a $50.5 million tourism campaign to attract visitors from around the world, a $5 million increase in funding from FY 2016.

The budget does not restore cuts in funding for staff at the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental, leaving agency infrastructure severely underfunded.

In addition, the budget includes a $68-million raid on funding for the northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“The Adirondack Park is a national treasure, a globally unique legacy that requires and deserves special attention,” Janeway said. “We are pleased that the Governor recognizes that the park is poised for change and requires his attention right now.”

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 the 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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