Press Releases

Adirondacks Benefit from Funding for Clean Water, Land, New Trails, Invasive Species Controls & New Diversity Initiative

Curbs on Plastic Bags, Food Waste and Climate Change Would Also Aid Adirondacks

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental advocacy organization today applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature for State Budget funding that will protect clean water, buy new Park land, fight climate change, resist invasive species, build more resilient trails and make the Park more welcoming place for all state residents.

“This budget adds another $500 million to clean water project funding, on top of the $2.5 billion to which the Governor has already made available,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “This will provide grants to help our small Adirondack communities to cope with the huge job of providing clean water and wastewater treatment to 12.4 million visitors every year. It will also safeguard the source of most of the state’s major rivers and drinking water from pollution, road salt and other contaminants.”

Janeway thanked Governor Cuomo and Environmental Conservation Committee Chairs Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D-Setauket, and Senator Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Beach, for their leadership.

The NYS Budget approved on the morning of April 1 contains an Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) that remained steady at $300 million. EPF highlights include more than $33 million for the purchase and protection of open space, including $2.5 million for a Land Trust Alliance grant program and $200,000 for the Lake George Park Commission.

A proposal by Governor Cuomo’s division of budget to raid the EPF (a capital projects fund) by using it to pay for other administrative costs was rejected by the Legislature.    

“For the first time, the budget also includes EPF funding authorization in the Environmental Justice category for $250,000 for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative,” Janeway said. “This will allow the ADI to be transformed from an all-volunteer effort to a formal program with a home and a coordinator.  It should be just the boost  The ADI needs to create bridges of understanding between people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and perspectives.”

Funds will come from a $7 million environmental justice category in the EPF.

The state will dedicate $20 million for “climate change mitigation and Adaptation” including $10.65 million for Climate Smart Community grants; $4,500,000 for Climate Resilient Farms; $200,000 for a “wood products council;” and $2,000,000 for Smart Growth Grants.

The budget also includes $33 million for “state land stewardship” including funds for trails and to curb overuse; $13.3 million to fight invasive species, including another $450,000 specifically for Lake George, $6 million for eradication grants and $500,000 to Cornell University to combat the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid – an insect that kills hemlock trees. Some of the “stewardship” funds could be used to contract with third parties to hire badly needed educators, trail crews and others staff to help address overuse.

Other Adirondack funding includes

  • Visitors’ Interpretive Centers -- $300,000 split between Paul Smith's College ($120,000) and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Newcomb ($180,000) to run the park’s two Visitor Interpretive Centers;
  • Local government landfill closure support -- Essex Country $300,000 and Hamilton County $150,000;
  • Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation -- $250,000 reappropriated from last year (not new funding); and,
  • Olympic Regional Development Authority -- $80 million in new capital improvement funding.

Not included in the budget

Climate Change: No action on legislation to codify state policy on carbon emissions reductions

Additional staff at Adirondack Park Agency/Dept. of Environmental Conservation: DEC gained five positions at the new Frontier Town campground and visitor hub at Exit 29, but no new rangers or forest-management staff.

Statewide progress

Plastic Shopping Bag Ban: The statewide ban on plastic single-use bags includes a 5-cent fee on paper bags that counties and cities can opt into and split with the state. The fee, which would go into effect on March 1, 2020, would be split 60/40, with 3 cents going to the state Environmental Protection Fund and 2 cents staying with the county or city. There are numerous exemptions, including newspaper bags, produce bags, garment bags and food takeout bags. New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually.

New Food Waste Requirements: As of January 1, 2022, businesses or persons who generate large amounts (2 tons per week or more) of food waste such as supermarkets, educational institutions, hospitals, correctional facilities, and large food service businesses like malls and entertainment venues must separate their excess edible food for donation and excess inedible food for composting. More than 2.5 million New Yorkers struggle to have enough to eat. At the same time, 40 percent of the food produced in this country is wasted—and here in New York, food makes up 18 percent of our municipal solid waste stream. Methane from food decomposition contributes significantly to climate change.

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 has its headquarters in the Park and maintains a full-time staff in Albany. The organization works with a wide variety of environmental groups and other stakeholders to make real the vision of a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

 

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