Press Releases

N.Y. Budget Resolves Adirondack Tax Conflict, Private Forest Protection Reforms Rejected

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental advocacy organization today thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders for maintaining clean water and Environmental Protection Fund appropriations in a tough budget year while removing a plan from the final budget that would have eliminated more than $75 million in state property tax payments to local governments in the Adirondack Park.

In addition, the Governor took an important step toward revising the state’s tax abatement program for encouraging sustainable private forestry by including an Empire Forests for the Future initiative in the executive budget proposal.  Advocates were disappointed that this first comprehensive reform to private forestry incentives in 30 years has not yet been approved.

The budget also eliminated an industry-backed proposal to increase the size limit for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).  It provided new money for Adirondack Park acid rain research, a new Lake George Park Commission home and funds for two Adirondack Park interpretive centers.

“We thank the Governor and legislative leaders for their vision of New York as a national leader that preserves Adirondack wilderness and communities as a model for the world,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “We are pleased that the agreement maintains dedicated environmental funding and avoid changes to the state’s current property tax payments to towns and school districts that host the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

“The budget this year was mixed, and we are disappointed with the failure to approve new incentives for sustainable private forest conservation,” Janeway said.  “The future success of the Adirondacks is threatened and we look forward to working with all parties to pass needed legislative reforms and increased funding.”                 

Other state budget highlights for the Adirondacks include:

  • Approval of a $300-million Environmental Protection Fund, including increases of
    $2.64 million for state land stewardship (to $32.64 million), and $300,000 for invasive species controls (to $13.3 million);
  • Agreement to continue Clean Water grant funding to local communities of $2.5 billion;
  • Rejection of the Senate’s plan to increase the weight limit on off-road vehicles that may be registered for public use by 50 percent, which would have allowed the use of Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) that can carry up to six passengers and cargo;
  • Approval of a $250,000 Aid to Localities grant to the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corp., which recently curtailed its operations due to a shift in federal grant priorities;
  • Approval of a new building for the Lake George Park Commission at a cost of $700,000;
  • Funding for Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Centers at Paul Smith’s College in the hamlet of Paul Smiths ($180,000) and the SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry in Newcomb ($120,000);
  • $60 million for the Olympic Regional Development Authority for improvements at ski areas and winter sports venues; and,
  • $1 million in additional funding for the Towns of Long Lake, Newcomb, Indian Lake, Minerva and North Hudson to help lure visitors to the newly expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Adirondack budget priorities that weren’t approved include:

  • Empire Forests for the Future Initiative, which would have overhauled the state’s timberland tax abatement program to make it more efficient, expand it to smaller parcels (down to 25 acres) and provide greater protection to the park’s forests and watersheds;
  • Replacement of select priority staff at the Adirondack Park Agency and Dept. of Environmental Conservation to help the state conserve water, forests and wildlife; and,
  • A request for $100,000 to support an expanded Adirondack Diversity Initiative, although the initiative may qualify for Environmental Protection Fund grant funding.

Janeway noted that the final budget agreement also continues to sweep back into the budget’s General Fund additional money collected through Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sales of carbon allowances.  These revenues should remain with the New York State Energy and Research Authority (NYSERDA) programs to be reinvested in energy conservation, clean energy development, environmental research and green jobs.

“This was a tough budget year, given the uncertainty on the federal level affecting the state’s finances,” Janeway said.  “Overall, the park fared well, and for that we are thankful.  But there were some disappointments too.  For those items where we fell short of our goals, we will learn from the experiences and try again.”

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 members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:
John Sheehan
518-441-1340 cell
518-432-1770 ofc

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 02, 2018

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