Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 NY Legislative Results: Adirondack Edition

John Sheehan, of The Adirondack Council sent a set of e-mails outlining bills in the final days of the the State Legislature’s 2007 session that will have an impact on the Adirondacks. We’ll reprint part of his e-mails here for your information:

Raquette Lake Water Supply: On Wednesday June 20, at about 9:30 pm, the Assembly granted final passage to a Constitutional Amendment to allow the hamlet of Raquette Lake to construct its drinking water supply system on the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Construction (aside from trailside lean-tos and ranger cabins) is currently banned on the Forest Preserve. This bill would give permission only to Raquette Lake, and requires the Town of Long Lake, in which the hamlet is located, to swap a similar tract of land to the state to make up for the lost acreage. The bill passed both houses in 2006 and now will be on the November 2007 statewide ballot. It does not require the Governor’s signature. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Assem. Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, the Assembly EnCon chairman.

Route 56 Power Line Construction: The New York Power Authority is seeking permission from the public to construct a power supply line from Stark Falls Reservoir power dam in Colton, St. Lawrence County, to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, where power outages have been severe and frequent. NYPA has agreed to build the line along the side of Route 56, crossing an area of Forest Preserve, rather than detouring the line through an environmentally sensitive area containing endangered species, wetlands and an ancient white pine forest. In this case, the private lands around the Forest Preserve are wilder and in greater need of protection that the area of Forest Preserve adjacent to the state highway.

The Route 56 constitutional amendment passed the legislature last year, but had to be retracted due to errors in the first version. The Assembly’s approval late last night now represents first passage of a new amendment, so it must be passed again by a separately elected legislature before it can go on the ballot. The soonest that can happen is January 2009. Given the need to construct the line as soon as possible, environmental organizations have agreed not to try to prevent NYPA from building the power line without the benefit of official permission, explaining that the alternate route would cause needless ecological degradation to remote, pristine areas. A new power line right-of-way would only add to the threat of all-terrain vehicle trespass into those areas and adjacent Forest Preserve.The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assemblyman Sweeney.

Fire Fighting Costs: Also late night on June 20th, the Assembly granted final passage to a bill repealing the requirement that the 12 Adirondack Park counties and 3 Catskill Park counties repay the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for the assistance of state forest rangers in fighting forest fires on state lands in the two wilderness parks. This arcane fee had so outraged local officials that DEC had been reluctant in recent years to even bill them. The fee was a thorn in the side of the late Sen. Ronald Stafford, who sponsored similar legislation to repeal it, but was stopped short by the Assembly’s objections. The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assem. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent. The 12 Adirondack Forest Preserve counties are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington. The three Catskill Forest Preserve counties are Greene, Sullivan and Ulster.

Environmental Protection Fund Expander: A bill sponsored by both Houses’ EnCon Chairmen, Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, and Assemblyman Sweeney. It would increase the Environmental Protection Fund from its current level of $150 million per year to $300 million by FY2009-10. The EPF’s main capital projects funds are for landfill closure and recycling grants, parks and historic preservation and open space. This bill has passed the Assembly and is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee. Under this bill, the funds available for open space should increase from the current $50 million annually to about $100 million.

Lake Colby Horsepower Limit: This bill would limit the size of boat motors on Lake Colby, near Saranac Lake, to 10 HP. The lakeshore owners requested this for their own peace and to preserve a colony of nesting loons. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly Rules Comte. It is sponsored by Sen. Little and Assem. Janet DuPrey, R-Plattsburgh.

NYS Invasive Species Council: A bill creating one has passed the Senate and awaits action in Assembly Rules. Sweeney/Marcellino.

Climate Change Task Force: A bill creating one is out of committee and awaiting action in each house; ready to pass when taken up. Marcellino/Sweeney.

Mileage and CO2: A bill would require carbon dioxide emissions information to be posted on the same sticker as mileage ratings for cars sold in New York State. Sweeney/Marcellino.

NCPR has a full report on what was left undone by our increasingly disfunctional legislature, including the Senates failure to confirm Spitzer’s choices to head the Adirondack Park Agency, the Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors, and the Upstate Economic Development Corporation.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




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