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Pro-Adirondack Proposals in Governor Cuomo's State of the State Build on NY's 123-Year Legacy of Adirondack Park Protection

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Pro-Adirondack Proposals in Governor Cuomo's State of the State
Build on NY’s 123-Year Legacy of Adirondack Park Protection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Wednesday, January 21, 2015

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
518-441-1340 (cell)
518-432-1770 (ofc)

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. -- Pro-Adirondack Park proposals that build on New York’s 123-year legacy of preserving this global treasure, its clean water, wilderness, wildlife and rural communities, were among the priorities expressed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his team in his 2015 combined State of the State address and Executive Budget summary today.

“We applaud the Governor for making a series of pro-Adirondack proposals that address priority issues identified by the Adirondack Council and our partners, both in the Park and around the world,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.

“From continuing the multi-year effort to restore the Environmental Protection Fund, to his plan to use bank settlement funds for infrastructure that could include clean water, the Park did well today. The Governor said he would combat alien invasive species, hire more environmental conservation staff and reduce the threat from oil trains."

“We are also pleased with the Governor’s commitments to build upon the Park’s century-old ‘Forever Wild’ legacy, expanded funding for rural broadband internet improvements and beginning a dialog about long-overdue reforms of the state’s timberland tax abatement program,” Janeway noted.

In his speech, the Governor outlined several proposals designed to assist the Adirondack Park in protecting water quality, wilderness and wildlife while also boosting outdoor recreation and protected public lands that drive the local economy. New York’s 123-year-old Adirondack Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States. It contains most of the motor-free wilderness remaining in the Northeast, as well as 130 rural communities spread across 9,300 acres of forests, lakes and rivers.

The Governor's proposals for the Adirondacks outlined in today’s speech include:

  • Environmental Protection Fund: The state’s capital projects account for major environmental priorities will increase by $10 million to $172 million. This account pays for clean water, land protection, invasive species, state land stewardship, farmland preservation and smart growth planning."
  • Clean Water & Community Resiliency Infrastructure: The Governor proposed setting aside $1.5 billion from a recent $5-billion legal settlement to designate funds for priorities that could include clean water and waste-water infrastructure grants and loans.
  • Invasive Species Controls: The Governor proposed designation of $1 million for an Adirondack Park-wide invasive species strategy. Last year, the Legislature made it illegal to transport invasive species from one lake or river to another. Most harmful, non-native, aquatic plants and animals hitchhike from one place to another on motorboats and trailers. However, only Lake George and Loon Lake have mandatory boat inspection programs. Many Adirondack local government and environmental leaders agree that a mandatory inspection program is needed Park-wide.
  • Adirondack Park Agency and Dept. of Environmental Conservation Staff: The Governor proposed restoring 36 staff member to the DEC, which can include (among other priorities) a ranger academy. Staffing at the state’s two top environmental protection agencies has suffered since 2007, with both agencies losing upwards of 20 percent of their workforce. The Park Agency needs replacement personnel to assist local governments and project applicants. The DEC needs staff to protect and manage public lands, especially new Forest Rangers.
  • Reducing Risks from Oil Trains: The Governor proposed more funding and attention to curbing the risks of oil transport through the Park via railroad. Community leaders, local emergency response officials and those concerned about clean water and wildlife were pleased with this progress, but not satisfied that state and federal officials had done all they could to protect Adirondack communities and Lake Champlain from an oil-spill disaster.
  • Broadband Expansion Billion: The Governor announced he would spend $500 million and seek an additional private investment of $500 million to expand high speed internet access in underserved and rural communities, including Adirondack villages and hamlets.

“We applaud the Governor’s commitment to meeting Adirondack community utility, infrastructure and resiliency needs, while honoring and building on the state's legacy of preserving Adirondack Forever Wild Forest Preserve,” Janeway said.

The Adirondack Council’s mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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