Press Releases

Legislature Faces Unfinished Adirondack Business on Return

Park Agency Appointments, Road Salt Legislation, Amendments on Agenda 

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today said that when state Legislators are able to return to Albany, in a few weeks, months or next year, it is prepared to work with them and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tackle several major Adirondack priorities that were left unaddressed, as everyone struggled to cope with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Still on the agenda are items important for preserving wilderness, protecting clean water, and fostering more vibrant communities. These include finding a solution for road-salt contamination of lakes, rivers and drinking water; possible Constitutional Amendments involving the "forever wild" clause; a new slate of nominees for the Adirondack Park Agency's (APA) board, and efforts to strengthen the Park Agency Act. 

"First, we want to commend state officials for the job they have done to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in a rational, non-partisan and cooperative manner," said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. "Public health measures appear to be working, even as our patience for self-isolation is tested. 

“Second we thank the Governor and Legislature for passing a NYS Budget that didn’t seek to economize by gutting environmental enforcement or weakening public health protections as has happened on the federal level,” said Janeway. “The budget contains a $300-million Environmental Protection Fund -- with money set aside to address overuse at popular hiking destinations -- and a proposal for a $3-billion bond act to pay for state actions to combat climate change.” 

Both of those capital project funds will provide money for job-creating construction and long-term maintenance projects including clean water, clean energy, energy conservation, and high-efficiency public buildings/infrastructure.   

"Those investments will cause a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the availability of clean, safe water statewide," Janeway said.  

Janeway said the Governor and the Legislature recognize that the COVID-19 crisis did not make other public health crises disappear, although it did divert public attention from them for a time. 

“Legislators and the Governor are to be recognized for acting before they left Albany to extend for a year an aquatic invasive species law, meaning the opportunity to strengthen and improve that law was carefully deferred to next year,” Janeway said.  

“Left unfinished was finding a solution to road salt contamination of underground wells and surface waters in the Adirondacks," Janeway said. "It is a serious public health threat that is spreading. For too many Adirondackers, it is already a reality." 

Janeway said the Council and a host of other organizations support bipartisan legislation initially introduced by Senator Little (R) and Assemblyman Jones (D) creating a task force that would examine the way roads are de-iced before, during and after winter storms, and recommend measures to safeguard water quality and aquatic life while keeping driving safe. 

A Constitutional Amendment under consideration for first approval would allow for the construction and operation of new facilities by the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s Mt. Van Hoevenberg cross country ski, biathlon and sliding center. If approved, the amendment would need to be approved again by the next Legislature, which will be elected in November and take office in January of 2021. Finally, the proposal must be approved on the statewide ballot. 

Last but not least on the end-of-session list is the need to strengthen the Adirondack Park Agency Act and appoint a slate of nominees for the Agency's 11-member board. All eight of the citizen members' terms will have expired by the end of June. Three of the eight have stepped down.  The other three APA board seats are held by state officials who work for the governor. 

"We need a diverse slate of new and returning APA nominees with experience in environmental law, conservation science, wilderness protection, and Park management or planning," Janeway said. "Those are the Agency’s principal duties.” 

The Adirondack Council mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council is an independent not-for-profit organization that works to secure a Park with clean water and clean air, wilderness areas, farms, working forests, and 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, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340  

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Thursday, May 14, 2020 

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