The Adirondacks would benefit from some of the priorities expressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2015 State of the State address on Wednesday. The proposals are expected to help protect water quality, combat invasive species, bolster APA and DEC staffing, increase the Environmental Protection Fund, expand broadband locally, and cut the risk of explosive oil trains moving through the region. The Adirondack Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States and contains most of the motor-free wilderness remaining in the Northeast. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Cuomo’
By disposition, if not by design, Dave Wick is the local official least likely to become the center of a controversy. He directed Warren County’s Soil and Water Conservation program for almost twenty years and in 2012, he was recruited to succeed Mike White as the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. Wick’s talent, a rare one, lies is combining practice with politics; engineering storm water controls, demonstrating the finer points of boat decontamination, while, at the same time, attracting and retaining the good will of elected officials and influential environmentalists. If he suffers from existential anxiety or self-doubt, cynicism or an ironic sense of humor, it’s not evident. The earnest, self-confident demeanor that he wears at public meetings, in conferences with officials and in interviews with the local press, never falters.
So it must have come as a surprise to Wick when, on November 14, he was summoned to the State Capitol and told that he was to submit his resignation, immediately. His inquisitor, Basil Seggos, must have been equally surprised when Wick replied, in so many words, that he’d rather not. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park is a global treasure, with clean water, large unbroken forests, wildlife and 130 historic communities. All who care about the Park will be interested in what Governor Cuomo has to say in his first State of the State message and first budget proposal of his second term. Both are expected on January 21 in Albany.
As we pause this year to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, the Adirondack Council is hopeful that the Governor will continue to show a strong interest in the Park’s future. Through cooperation and partnership, the Governor’s team can achieve important environmental and community development goals for the Park. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision in December to ban the use of hydrofracking in New York State was politically astute. The governor asserted he is merely following the recommendations in a new report from the State Health Department, A Public Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development.
That report, based on four years of research, is also politically judicious. It avoids condemning hydrofracking or sensationalizing its potential health risks. Instead, it concludes that “the overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information” studied for the report demonstrates that there are “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF [High Volume Hydraulic Fracking], the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impact which could adversely affect public health.” The 184-page report is buttressed by 74 references, mostly well-documented studies and reports from the past few years. » Continue Reading.
It looks like Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not want a mandatory invasive species boat inspection and control program on Lake George. Governor Cuomo and the DEC tried to fire Dave Wick, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC), and on both accounts, Cuomo and the DEC seem to have lost.
On Tuesday evening, November 25th, news broke that the Cuomo Administration had backed down and agreed to suspend Wick without pay for two weeks and then let him return to his job. It apparently had nothing to do with a gas spill – the original pretense for Wick’s firing. » Continue Reading.
Republican Elise Stefanik has soundly won election to the US House of Representatives. At just 30 years old, she will be the youngest women ever elected to the House, breaking a record set by 31-year-old Elizabeth Holtzman (D – Brooklyn) in 1973.
With 578 of 589 districts reporting it appears that Stefanik’s Democratic challenger Aaron Woolf drew just 32 percent, and the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello, the only candidate who has been truly living in the district, garnered 11 percent. Stefanik’s opponents combined did not poll enough to top her 53 percent which should diminish the effectiveness of Democratic cries of “spoiler”.
This election marks a major step forward for the Green Party locally. Their candidate secured three important newspaper endorsements: from the Glens Falls Post Star and the widely read Chronicle, and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. In Warren County Funiciello picked up 23.5% of the vote and came close to beating Woolf – falling just 201 votes short of that mark, though Stefanik still won a majority of the votes in Warren County (Stefanik 8,822; Woolf 4,445; and Funiciello 4,245). District-wide, even with all of Funiciello’s votes Woolf still would have been soundly defeated however. » Continue Reading.
Legislation passed in June that bans the transport of aquatic invasive species (AIS) across New York has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law. Similar laws are on the books in a number of other states. This legislation will significantly improve New York’s focus and ability to control AIS.
Governor Cuomo has until September 6th to sign this legislation. He should sign it. » Continue Reading.
By year’s end, the state intends to purchase two large tracts of former Finch lands that border the High Peaks Wilderness, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Known as McIntyre East and McIntyre West, the tracts encompass nearly twelve thousand acres near the Upper Works trailhead in the town of Newcomb. » Continue Reading.
Two years ago, when Governor Andrew Cuomo revived the massive Finch, Pruyn land deal, first engineered by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy in 2007, he shifted the terms of a long-running debate over big land-conservation projects in the Park. Funding for open-space conservation had been under attack in Albany for years, including a moratorium on new spending. Even many Democrats were questioning the value to taxpayers of protecting more “forever wild” land in the Park.
The governor turned that debate on its head, arguing that vast tracts of new public lands would be a boon to the state’s tourism economy—rather than a costly burden—and would give struggling Adirondack towns a long-needed boost. “Today’s agreement will make the Adirondack Park one of the most sought-after destinations for paddlers, hikers, hunters, sportspeople, and snowmobilers,” Cuomo declared in August 2012 as he committed the state to spending $47 million on sixty-nine thousand acres of timberlands over five years.
Cuomo pointed to “extraordinary new outdoor recreational opportunities” that he asserted would spark investment and help revitalize the tourism economy in struggling mountain towns. » Continue Reading.
It was gratifying to see the New York Times’s March 7 editorial page encouraging the Governor and Legislature to use a portion of this year’s surplus to restore environmental funding to the State Budget.
The Times urged New York’s leaders make the kind of investments in clean water, green jobs and infrastructure that are needed, to protect the environment and stimulate the local economy. » Continue Reading.
The gap between legislative intent to protect the open space resources of the Adirondack Park and the APA’s analysis of project impacts in accordance with the law widened into a chasm in 2012 when the agency approved the Adirondack Club and Resort by a 10-1 vote.
Now, the Agency has also approved by 10-1 vote a Zipline thrill ride down scenic French Mountain above the Village of Lake George at the entrance to the Adirondack Park. That development will not engender statewide publicity nor, I suspect, a lawsuit. Nonetheless it requires the cutting of a 900-foot swath, 35-50 feet wide, down a steep and wild mountainside. According to Agency staff, the steel cables would be highly visible from many vantage points; in some views the cables would be silhouetted above the mountain, and the cut would resemble a utility line. The thrill ride benefits exactly one business in a resort community. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the latest phase of New York State’s acquisition of 69,000 acres, part of 161,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands (and others) purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2007, as well as $875,000 in available grants for projects to develop tourism and recreation facilities within the Adirondack Park.
The State will pay $5.7 million to acquire the tracts from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), using the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) which is funded by real estate transfer taxes. Already, the state has completed two acquisitions from TNC totaling 30,037 acres. An additional 89,000 acres of the original TNC-Finch 161,00-acre purchase was set aside for logging and other motorized uses in 2010.
With this purchase New York State will add to the Forest Preserve 8,451 acres spread over 14 parcels in Fulton, Warren, Essex and Hamilton counties, along with a few parcels in Saratoga County that are outside the blue line. The Saratoga County properties include the Daniels Road tract (519 acres), the Penn York tract (241 acres) and the Town Line tract (176 acres). In addition, the Town of Edinburg will be able to move forward with the acquisition of 1,248 acres on Fox Hill Road. Another 154 acres known as Town Corners will consolidate wetlands in Greenfield. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Recreation Web Portal was released at the end of January with much back-slapping and horn-tooting from Governor Cuomo and other involved parties. Upon closer inspection, however, it is clear that this web ‘portal’ falls far short of expectations.
In an Almanack post last October I described the project and outlined some of the expected functionality of the new site, including what I described as “a strong mapping component, rather than the menu/catalog driven approach used by most Adirondack recreation sites.” The opportunities afforded by modern online search and mapping technologies presented an incredible chance to build a truly useful, fun-to-use, map-based virtual gateway to the Adirondacks.
One can always hope. But readers already know this is not the case. Cuomo’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, made it explicit when he testified recently to legislative committees “Basically, this is a flat budget staff-wise,” he told legislators who politely questioned why his DEC budget appeared to be cut $43 million.
“Those dollars were non-reoccurring federal pass-through funds,” the commissioner answered. “Those are not cuts to our operating funds.” When questioned about the apparent loss of staff, the commissioner answered that those were DEC information technology personnel moved to a central IT office in Albany. » Continue Reading.
The classification of the properties, formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, was endorsed by the Adirondack Park Agency on December 13, 2013 as the preferred alternative.
The plan will allow recreation access to the newly acquired lands for people of all abilities for a wide variety of uses including hiking, paddling, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding and snowmobiling. » Continue Reading.
For three days, the Adirondack Park Agency deliberated on a set of classifications for Forest Preserve in Newcomb, Minerva and Indian Lake that were never in doubt. The decisions were the Governor’s. APA took its direction from him, as it did with the Adirondack Club and Resort two years ago.
APA staff labored mightily over the past week to put those State Land decisions, and the maps into a format that their members might understand. The convoluted resolution was adopted unanimously but requires changes in inconvenient regulations and policies before the classifications are finalized. That is the price this Governor exacts from his state agencies in order to settle a controversial policy matter for these magnificent new parts of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
Last month, voters in New York State approved Proposition 5, which amends Article 14 of the New York Constitution to potentially allow exploratory drilling and mining by a private mining company, NYCO, on two hundred acres of Forest Preserve lands (Lot 8) in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. The amendment authorizes a potential land swap from NYCO that, in theory, will compensate the people of the state for the loss of two hundred wilderness acres, and further requires that Lot 8 ultimately be “remediated” and returned to state ownership.
In the months leading up to the vote and in the weeks since its passage, Prop 5 has stirred intense and at times acrimonious debate. Unfortunately, the debate has tended to obscure rather than shed light on what Prop 5 really authorizes and what this novel amendment might mean for the future of “forever wild.” Here is some fact and fiction about Prop 5: » Continue Reading.
The current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.
The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.
Many of the Adirondack Park’s environmental organizations and local governments stopped fighting one another and worked together in this year on issues of common concern, advancing agreements that better protect the park’s environment while also encouraging community development, according to the Adirondack Council’s 2013 State of the Park Report.
State of the Park is a 20-page, illustrated review of more than 100 actions taken by local, state and federal government officials, briefly explaining from the perspective of the Adirondack Council what they did to help or hurt the ecology and economy of the Adirondack Park over the past 12 months. State of the Park has been published each October since 1986 as a report card intended to hold government officials accountable. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the Adirondack Park on Thursday September 26th and devoted a full day to discussions with various parties about the looming decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) on the Forest Preserve classification of 21,000-acres of former Finch Paper lands along the Hudson River and around the Essex Chain Lakes.
I give the Governor high marks for making the trip and holding these meetings. (In the interest of full disclosure no one from Protect the Adirondacks was invited to these meetings. We are, after all, suing the Cuomo Administration with two pretty big lawsuits.) With Joe Martens, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in tow, the Governor met at Follensby Pond (his second trip there) with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Council and ADK. Those most closely aligned with the Cuomo Administration, who supported for the Adirondack Club & Resort project and/or the NYCO land swap, get to go fishing with the Governor.
The Governor then went to Gore Mountain and met with seven local government officials as well as Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec. At Gore, the Governor held a press conference. » Continue Reading.