Press Releases

Gov. Hochul’s Budget Proposals Would Help Adirondacks

Plan incl. $4B Bond Act and $400M Environmental Protection Fund, $500M Clean Water 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s overused trails and overcrowded hiker facilities would get some much-needed relief under a state budget proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul today, whose plan also included major investments in clean water and green energy, the Adirondack Council said. 

The Governor proposed an environmental bond act of $4 billion, which is $1 billion more than a prior proposal made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She added $100 million to the current $300-million (annual) Environmental Protection Fund, which is also meant for capital investments in long-lasting environmental protection projects. She also proposed $500 million for clean water projects and another $500 million for the development of offshore wind power and other renewable energy projects. 

“These capital investments in the Adirondacks will reap rich rewards in terms of environmental protection, new jobs, and long-term, sustainable community-based economic development,” said Adirondack Council Director of Government Relations Kevin Chlad. “Investments in clean water, green jobs, and wilderness protection are the formula for success in the Adirondacks.” 

In addition, her budget includes $90 million for the DEC to address a variety of capital needs to improve access to state lands, rehabilitate campgrounds, and upgrade its recreational facilities, all as part of the Adventure NY program (an increase of $15 million over current budget). This funding will also provide for health and safety repairs to state infrastructure such as dams, wetland restoration, state lands, and fish hatcheries.   

The Governor’s budget includes an additional $20 million in funding for infrastructure improvements at the state-owned Conklingville Dam in Hadley, Saratoga County. The dam was completed in 1930 to create the 29-mile-long Great Sacandaga Lake to relieve seasonal flooding in the major cities of the Hudson Valley. It is the largest earthen dam in the world.   

Additional Adirondack Features of the Governor’s Plan 

Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)  

Sources – Provides a cash infusion to the EPF from the NYS Real Estate Transfer Tax, the contribution from which rises from $120 million annually to $257.4 million  

  • Water Infrastructure Improvement Act – $500 million for Clean Water/Drinking Water infrastructure grants for municipalities
  • Open Space Projects -- $40 million, up from $30 million in current budget 
  • State Land Stewardship -- $50 million, up almost $15 million above the current budget; “including but not limited to sustainable trail crews or other activities related to sustainable use of the Forest Preserve and other state lands that are threatened by overuse”  
  • Invasive species prevention/eradication – $17 million, up from the current $13.3 million 
  • Smart Growth -- $3.5 million, with 25% of the fund reserved for planning by not-for-profit organizations 
  • Soil & Water Conservation Districts -- $15 million, up from $11.5 million this year, which can be used to combat harmful algal blooms and other agricultural/environmental crossover projects 
  • Visitor Interpretive Centers -- $180,000 to Paul Smith’s College and $120,000 to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Newcomb, which run the Park’s only visitor education centers. The centers were formerly run by the Adirondack Park Agency
  • Adirondack Diversity Initiative – $250,000, which is the fourth year of state funding for this important state program in Saranac Lake 
  • NY Works Projects – broadly defined as a fund for state land improvement projects, which is a $15m increase over this year 

Other Capital Projects 

Adirondack Park Agency -- $29 million for new headquarters 

Olympic Regional Development Authority -- $92.5 million in new capital funding to implement a strategic plan to modernize sports facilities and venues, including investments to support the 2023 World University Games. Of this, $30 million is dedicated to develop the North Creek Ski Bowl, adjacent to ORDA’s Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek, Warren County. 

ConnectALL Initiative -- $300 million in new funding for broadband access in underserved areas to supplement $800 million in federal funding from the recently approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; budget also eliminates NYS Dept. of Transportation right-of-way charges for grant recipients 

Adirondack Park Agency – Permission to rise from 50 current employees to 54 represents the backfilling of personnel lost to attrition

Dept. of Environmental Conservation – Permission to fill 94 new full-time positions; 31 in Air and Water divisions; 12 in law enforcement; 13 for Lands and Forests  

Great Sacandaga Lake – the budget appears to contain new property tax payments to Saratoga County and Fulton County towns that should have been receiving state tax revenue for state-owned lands along the lakeshore. The entire shoreline – from the mean high-water mark to six feet in elevation above it -- is Forest Preserve. It was acquired by the state in the late 1920s so the reservoir could be built to hold back the waters of the Sacandaga River before they reached the flood-prone Hudson Valley. The budget recognizes that taxes are owed to the towns, but assigns the tax payments to a non-Forest Preserve account.   

The Council said it will inform state officials that this approach is risky and unwarranted. There is enormous support for the state laws mandating tax payments to Adirondack and Catskill communities for hosting the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. Other “special” tax payments have been challenged by the courts and targeted by recent governors for elimination. “The towns deserve the tax revenue,” Chlad said.

People’s Budget Proposal 

Also on Monday, members of the NYS Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus had also released the People’s Budget Proposal. It included $6 million for a three-year comprehensive Survey of Climate Change and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems (SCALE) and The Timbuctoo Pipeline – A Summer Climate and Careers Institute New York’s Adirondack Park was a cradle of the early civil rights movement, dating back to the mid-1800s. 

Timbuctoo in Essex County was the site of an early black suffrage settlement, one of eight known settlements in the Adirondacks that enabled 3,000 black men to meet the property-ownership requirements granting them the right to vote in New York. The Timbuctoo Pipeline will create a systemic partnership between the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and CUNY Medgar Evers College (MEC). Together, they will design, develop and host an annual Summer Climate and Careers Institute dedicated to introducing climate science and the Adirondacks to urban students who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

“This can be a tremendous opportunity for Black and Latino students to gain the experience, skills and credentials they need to compete for careers in environmental protection, forest sciences, visitor management, climate sciences, aquatic ecosystems, and a whole universe of rewarding, well-paid jobs,” said Aaron Mair, Director of the Forever Adirondacks Campaign. “These proposed investments can have the dual benefit of protecting the Adirondacks and diversifying the Adirondack workforce and boosting interest in the Park to all corners of the state. For the Park to succeed in the decades ahead, it will need all New Yorkers to understand its value. It’s truly a national treasure. That treasure belongs to all of us. Each of us owns an equal share."

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 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. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

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