Press Releases

NEWS Legislature, Governor Advance Adirondack Council's VISION 2050

Session Ends w/Progress on Wildlife, Climate; Budget Aided Water Quality, Science, Careers

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council thanked the Legislature and Governor today for passing bills and budget items that support the organization’s VISION 2050 long-range plan for the protection of the Adirondack Park. These legislative wins safeguard wildlife and fund climate initiatives, as well as provide critical funding for clean water, vital scientific research and career training for wilderness managers and others seeking employment in the fight against climate change.

The organization also thanked its members and advocate activists for working with the Senate’s leaders to halt a bill that would have altered the management of the “forever wild” Forest Preserve by prioritizing the retention of specific historic buildings over wild forest lands. Since both the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves are already registered as National Landmarks, layering another historic designation -- for just the buildings – could create a legal conflict that could weaken Article 14, Section 1 of the state Constitution that mandates these forests “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”

“This session, including the budget negotiations that ended in April, showed that the Legislature and Governor care about the long-term health and vitality of the Adirondacks,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Raul J. Aguirre. “What passed, and what didn’t pass, reflected many of the major priorities of our VISION 2050 report. That’s important because VISION 2050 isn’t just a plan for the Adirondack Council. It’s a plan for the management and protection of the entire Adirondack Park. One that relies on partnership and collaboration from local, state and federal officials, other organizations, park residents, visitors and people across America who care about this iconic landscape.

“The Wildlife Crossings Act, passed in May, will protect wildlife while also preventing automobile accidents and saving lives,” Aguirre said. “The Climate Superfund Act that passed as the session ended is designed to create a new pool of funding to combat the impacts of climate change, funded by fossil fuel companies.  We welcome more investment in a sustainable climate and are watching to see how this superfund will fit into the state’s plans for a carbon cap-and-invest program.”

State Budget

The state budget bill brought millions of dollars in new funding for the Survey of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems (SCALE) and the Timbuctoo Summer Climate Careers Institute, plus an additional $500 million for clean water grants.

Water, Sewer Grants Improved

In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul made it easier for Adirondack municipalities to afford new water and wastewater systems by doubling the cap on state grants from 25% to 50% of the total project cost.

Road Salt

A new bill advanced by the Senate that didn’t make it through the Assembly would have created a Road Salt Reduction Council and Advisory Committee to carry out the recommendations of the state’s recent Road Salt Reduction Task Force. Road salt has become major source of clean water contamination in the Adirondacks, centered on salt storage facilities and state highways.

“We were very pleased to see the bill move so quickly through the Senate after being introduced just two weeks ago,” said Aguirre. “We thank Senator Pete Harckham of Peekskill for his sponsorship and support.  We also thank Assemblyman Billy Jones of Chateaugay, who was working to advance the same bill in his house when the session ended Saturday morning. There is still a chance that the Legislature will return to Albany this year, so we hope they can finish the job then.”

Constitutional Amendments

The Senate also passed a Constitutional Amendment resolution designed to remove Camp Gabriel’s, a former state prison located in the town of Brighton from the public Forest Preserve and replace it with greater acreage in a land swap. The Adirondack Council supports the resolution to remove Camp Gabriels. Unfortunately, the proposal did not advance. Another proposal was discussed by the Governor and Legislature that would remove Camp Gabriels, as well as the former Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility in Mineville, Essex County and the former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Moreau, Saratoga County. The Council also signaled its support for this plan to remove all three prisons, but a formal draft of this proposal, in the form of a resolution, was not introduced in time for consideration. 

Title Insurance

The Council supported a bill that would allow the state to purchase title insurance to gain a clear deed to lands it intends to purchase for the Forest Preserve. Currently, lengthy title searches must be completed before a state purchase, which can delay state action for years. This puts unnecessary strain on land trusts and other third parties who help the state to buy new lands by purchasing them and holding them until the state can complete the paperwork. More than 25 state officials must consent to the purchase of new Forest Preserve lands. The bill didn’t pass in the Assembly.

Clean Water Information

The Senate passed the Open Water Data Act, which will make it easier for scientists, residents and advocates to obtain and report information on drinking water quality. The bill didn’t pass in the Assembly.

The 9,300-square-mile Adirondack Park is one of the largest intact temperate deciduous forest ecosystems left in the world. The Adirondacks are home to about 130,000 New York residents in 130 rural communities.

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded, not-for-profit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action.  The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 

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