Press Releases

State Budget Victories for Adirondack Wilderness, Communities 

Funds for Clean Water, Wild Lands, Cultural Development, Sustainable Economy 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Adirondack Council today praised NYS legislative leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul for passing a state budget that invests billions of dollars in clean water and climate initiatives to protect Adirondack wilderness, wildlife, and taxpayers. The budget also creates a new job-training careers pipeline and removes longstanding obstacles to broadband communications development. 

“Wow! This was really a great budget year for the Adirondacks,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “The budget reflects a serious effort to match state programs to the park’s unique needs. Wilderness and clean water will benefit from programs that are designed to manage visitors and expand the Forest Preserve. Local taxpayers and residents will benefit from state assistance with major projects to purify drinking water and wastewater. Students will learn new job skills at the Timbuctoo Summer Careers and Climate Institute. Science will gain a greater understanding of how air pollution and climate change are affecting our lakes and rivers through a comprehensive new survey of aquatic ecosystems.” 

Major Environmental Investments 

The budget also included a key policy change expanding protections for wetlands across the state. This measure gives the state additional wetlands protection options inside the Adirondack Park as well. 

“As if that were not enough, we can also celebrate a proposed bond act that will give voters the choice in November to provide a new $4.2-billion investment into combating climate change and protecting nature statewide,” Janeway said. “In addition, the Environmental Protection Fund increased by 33% to a record level of $400 million. Within it is a category that will provide $600,000 to create a Visitor Use Management Framework for the Adirondacks and Catskills, similar to the ones used in national parks. That meshes well with an $8-million project to improve visitor safety and combat overuse of wildlands, which was also approved.” 

Big Boost for Sustainable Community Development  

Janeway said taxpayers would get relief from an additional $500-million appropriation for grants to communities for water and sewage treatment projects. Communities across the Adirondacks have received over $80 million from these programs over the past five years. 

The Adirondack Diversity Initiative received an increase in funding, from $250,000 to $300,000, reflecting both the state’s confidence in the program and the size of the job still to be done, he said.  

Adirondack communities will benefit from the elimination of a pole-connection fee imposed on new broadband equipment installations, as well as an investment of more than $1 billion of state and federal money to complete networks and help low-income residents afford broadband internet access. 

“That is a key set of changes we highlighted in State of the Park 2021 and advocated for as part of the solution to the broadband puzzle in the Park,” Janeway said. “It is important to get this type of work done so Adirondack communities can keep pace and so local residents have the economic and educational opportunities that affordable broadband provides.” 

Healthy Children and Clean Transportation  

Janeway also cheered the Adirondack Foundation’s Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance for advances in state support for child care, with roughly $7 billion devoted to programs statewide. 

The Council also congratulated the North Country Chamber of Commerce for its success in promoting electric school buses. The switch from diesel engines to electric buses will prevent air pollution, make students healthier and create new jobs in the Plattsburgh region where new buses will be built, Janeway said. 

Gratitude Well Earned         

Janeway thanked Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, D-Yonkers, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, Environmental Conservation Committee Chairs Sen. Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Beach, and Assem. Steve Englebright, D-Setauket, Assemblymember Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, D-Elmont,  Assemblymember Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, Senator Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, and Senator Rachel May, D-Syracuse. Janeway also thanked the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus for its members’ crucial support. 

Janeway praised the Council’s many private advocacy partners, including Forever Adirondacks Campaign coalition members, other environmental organizations, community leaders, and state officials whose support made this budget possible.  

List of major programs and funding:  

Restore Mother Nature Bond Act: $4.2 billion. The bonds would provide capital funding for major projects associated with curbing greenhouse gases and combating climate change. Wilderness protection, green energy, and energy conservation measures would benefit the Park's ecology, economy, and public health. 

Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute: $2.1 million. A new conservation jobs pathway for City University of New York students and others through a cooperative program with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Newcomb. The program will begin with CUNY’s Medgar Evers College of Brooklyn. The Timbuctoo Institute is named for one of the Suffrage Settlements of the Adirondacks in the 1840s, where 3,000 black men claimed ownership of a 40-acre homestead that entitled them to vote. The institute can act as a jobs pipeline for students from a broad variety of backgrounds who might not otherwise ever visit the Adirondack Park. Other colleges have also expressed a desire to participate. 

Survey of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems: $500,000. Funded preliminarily through the Aid to Localities budget, the survey is similar to a baseline survey of 1,400 Adirondack lakes conducted in advance of acid rain regulations in the 1980s. This one would consist of comprehensive testing on a broad array of lake and watershed types to gain a representative understanding of the entire 11,000-waterbody landscape. This survey would place more emphasis on data regarding climate change. This is a multi-year project expected to cost about $6 million that will employ a team of scientists working in partnership with the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corp. 

Visitor Use Management Framework: $600,000. The Adirondacks and Catskills would gain a new set of management tools designed to keep wildlands healthy while they remain popular with visitors. VUMFs help officials assess the need to build, redesign or rebuild trails, reroute traffic and to create and maintain facilities such as restrooms, lean-tos, campsites, parking, interpretive centers, and information kiosks. The Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) expects to issue a request for proposals soon and hire a visitor management expert by the fall, Janeway said. This complements the recent decision by DEC to designate Forest Preserve coordinators for the Adirondacks and Catskills. 

Visitor Safety and Overuse: $8 million. This EPF category for Adirondack and Catskill visitor safety and wilderness protection will fund improvements that help managers of the Forest Preserve to cope with overwhelming levels of use and overcrowding on the most popular public lands locations.  

Broadband Internet Access and Availability: $1.6 billion statewide. The Governor’s ConnectAll initiative is aimed at eliminating all remaining underserved locations and providing price breaks and subscription subsidies for residents who cannot afford service.   

Clean Water Grants: $500 million statewide. Grants to communities for new water treatment and sewage treatment facilities can lift an enormous burden from the shoulders of rural taxpayers. Villages and hamlets struggle to build and maintain multi-million-dollar projects in communities with total populations that average fewer than 2,000 residents. State help ensures safe drinking water and purer lakes and rivers for park residents and 12.4 million annual visitors.  

Adirondack Diversity Initiative: $300,000. This program is in its third year in Saranac Lake, with a need to expand its scope and reach. For the first two years of the program, its budget was $250,000. 

Wetlands Protection: An Article 7 bill changes state wetlands policy to reduce the minimum size for state jurisdiction from 12.5 acres to 7.4 outside of the Adirondack Park (where 1 acre is already the threshold).  It also expands the types of wetlands over which state protections may be offered and expands the scope of Adirondack Park Agency jurisdiction over development on lakeshores and other deep-water wetlands. 

Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters: $29 million. Will allow the agency to construct a building better suited to its needs than the tiny log cabin it has been forced to reside within for more than 50 years, sharing a campus with the better-situated Department of Environmental Conservation regional headquarters and the State Police Troup G Headquarters. The APA hosts a large number of hearings and other public gatherings on important issues and needs space to expand its staff and its role within the Park. 

Environmental Protection Fund elements affecting the Adirondacks

  • State Land Stewardship -- $48.7 million statewide, up $14.3 million from this year’s $34.4 million. 
  • Open Space Protection – $40 million for new park lands and forest preserve; $10 million higher than current budget. 
  • Farmland Protection -- $21 million statewide, up from current $18 million 
  • Mohawk River Action Plan – a new program funded at $1 million for watershed management on the Adirondack Park’s southern slopes. 
  • Lake George Invasive Species Controls -- $900,000 is twice the current budget for preventing the spread of invasive species within the lake. Another $5.75 million will be available to fight invasive species in other lakes. 
  • Visitor Interpretive Centers -- $150,000 to SUNY ESF for the VIC in Newcomb, up $30,000 from this year; and, $225,000 to Paul Smith’s College for the Brighton/Paul Smiths VIC, up from this year’s $180,000 appropriation. 
  • Municipal Recycling -- $19 million, including a new food waste program, an increase of $3.7 million above this year. 
  • Landfill Closure/Gas Management -- $750,000, with $300,000 to Hamilton County and $150,000 to Essex County. Same as this year. 
  • Smart Growth Grants -- $3 million, up 50% from this year’s $2 million, to help Communities in the Adirondack Park plan and execute hamlet-centric development. 
  • Climate Smart Communities -- $15 million for helping communities create plans to reduce their carbon footprints; up from the current $10.3 million.  

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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