Press Releases

Adirondack Park Needs State Funding in Final Budget

For more information:

John F. Sheehan
518-441-1340 cell
518-432-1770 ext. 203

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 19, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. – Several important Adirondack Park environmental initiatives need to be priorities in the final NYS Budget approved by the Governor and Legislature by April, the Adirondack Council said today.

Under the budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo statewide environmental programs, such as continued rollout of over $2.5 billion in clean water funding plus $300 million in Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) projects represent continued record levels of funding.  In addition, the budget contains $65 million to combat algae blooms in upstate lakes.

The Governor also submitted a proposal long championed by the Adirondack Council and other organizations for forest property tax exemption amendments that will incentivize improved private forest stewardship. Inside the Adirondack Park, the Governor directed new funding toward winter sports venue improvements and snowmobile trail grooming vehicles.

Other priorities will have to be addressed in negotiations with the Legislature between now and the April 1 budget deadline, the park’s largest environmental organization noted.

“The Adirondacks are defined by ‘forever wild’ wilderness and small communities,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “To complement an historic state investment in Adirondack Park towns and infrastructure, the State also needs to approve an historic expansion of Wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds. 

“The Adirondacks need a final budget that includes the $300 million EPF, the clean water funding, and the forest tax law reforms, while restoring lost funding for acid rain monitoring and recovery in Adirondack lakes and streams,” Janeway said.  “There also remains a need for funding to support the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, which seeks to make the park a more welcoming place for all New Yorkers, and funding dedicated to protection and management of over-used, popular Wilderness areas.”

“The Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency need additional staff to handle the public land stewardship challenges posed by big increases in the number of park visitors, especially in popular wilderness areas,” Janeway noted. “There is a need for funding for circuit riders, education outreach to support measures that can help Adirondack communities cope with rapid climate change.”

Janeway expressed concerns over the Governor’s plan to change the state’s property tax payments to local governments that host state Forest Preserve lands.  Instead of paying full local property taxes to Adirondack Park towns, counties and schools (about $70 million a year), the state would make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes subject to a maximum annual increase of 2 percent.

“We have asked for clarification of the reasons and likely impacts of this proposed change,” Janeway said. “The Adirondack Council opposes a cut in these payments to towns.”

Statewide, the Governor proposed continued spending of $2.5 billion over five years, from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, including grants for water and wastewater systems for local communities that can’t afford them. To date $32 million in grants from this source have been directed to Adirondack community clean water infrastructure needs.

The Governor also proposed $300 million for the EPF for the third consecutive year.  The EPF provides funding for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland conservation, invasive species prevention and reduction, recreational access, water quality, and environmental justice programs.

Some $40 million would be spent on New York Works capital infrastructure program. This funding would be used to improve access to state lands, rehabilitate campgrounds, and upgrade DEC recreational facilities.  Funding could also be used for infrastructure investments, remediating contamination, and maintenance on dams, state lands, and fish hatcheries.

Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Centers: Centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb would receive $180,000 in new funding.  They are operated by Paul Smith’s College and the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Sports and Venues: The budget plan is generous to ski areas and Olympic sports venues.  It proposes $62.5 million in new capital funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, including $50 million for an upgrades at Olympic facilities and ski resorts in an effort to lure the World University Games; $10 million for maintenance and energy-efficiency projects; and $2.5 million appropriated from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget as part of the New York Works initiative.

Algae Blooms: A total of $65 million from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund would be dedicated to combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York lakes. Funding could be used to reduce sources of pollution that trigger dangerous algae blooms and to install new monitoring and treatment technologies.

Empire Forests for the Future Initiative: The Executive Budget includes legislation to reform the forest property tax exemption law, establish grant programs in support of sustainable forestry, provide assistance to municipalities disproportionately impacted by the exemptions, and create a procurement preference for New York wood products.

Combating Invasive Species:  The proposed EPF includes $13 million to help address invasive species includes, including funds dedicated for the Adirondack Park, Lake George, and an additional $700,000 for needed Lake George Park Commission facilities construction.

Open Space Protection: EPF proposed by the Governor includes $30 million for Open Space land conservation. This is a decrease of more than $6 million from last year because of a decrease in the number of expected large land acquisitions.  This funding continues to include $2.5 million for the Land Trust Conservation Partnership program which has awarded grants to a number of Adirondack land trusts.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions a Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant, local communities. 

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

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