Tuesday, January 7, 2020

State Legislature EnCon Committee Chairs Talk Priorities

todd steven willie

The following essay was authored by Assemblyman Steven Englebright and State Senator Todd Kaminsky.

The 2019 legislative session was a great one for New York’s environment. As the chairs of the Environmental Conservation Committees in both houses, we were pleased to talk with Adirondack residents and visitors about the session in late September when we came to the park to discuss next year’s agenda.

The Adirondacks aren’t just New York’s largest park, they are a national treasure and a shining example of long-term conservation that serves as a model for the world.

This year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which will guide the state to a cleaner and greener future. It will set a national example for how to handle the challenges of a rapidly changing climate and help to propel us to a global solution.

Both houses also approved a constitutional amendment that would guarantee all New Yorkers the right to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment. It must pass both houses again before it goes to the voters for final approval. We approved another billion dollars for clean water grants and loans to communities. We placed a ban on single-use plastic bags and required institutions to prevent largescale food waste.

In addition, we extended for another year the law requiring boaters to remove invasive species before launching their boats. This will allow time for a debate over whether we should include mandatory boat inspections when the law is renewed again in 2020.

For the Adirondack Park specifically, we granted final approval to the land bank that was needed to carry out the constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2017. It will allow small infrastructure improvements, including bike lanes and broadband, along town roads that pass through the state forest preserve.

But there is more work to be done.

At the Adirondack Park Agency, seven of eight citizen members are now serving on expired terms. We are hopeful that the governor will propose a full and diverse slate of qualified candidates for the Senate to confirm. Communities, clean water and wildlife depend on this happening in 2020.

While the Adirondack Park Agency was created in the 1970s as a response to sprawling development, conservation science has come a long way in the last four decades. It is now evident that the spatial pattern of development is as, if not more, important than the density of development when it comes to preserving wildlife habitat. Improvements must be made in the Adirondacks to employ conservation development practices on the park’s largest subdivisions.

We are glad to see record-setting crowds coming to see the High Peaks Wilderness Area and other popular destinations. But the wear and tear on these over-loved locations makes us believe special measures are needed to protect their ecological health (water, forests, wildlife) and their wild character – that feeling of freedom and solitude possible only in wilderness.

Let us remember that New York conservationists walk in the footsteps of the world’s greatest environmental leaders, such as Bob Marshall, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilderness Act author Howard Zahniser, who dedicated their lives to wilderness preservation and changed the lives of all Americans for the better.

The Adirondacks were the inspiration for all of them. The Adirondacks will be our inspiration too as we approach the 2020 legislative session with renewed hope and a sense of urgency to our purpose.

Steven Englebright is a Democratic Assembly member from Setauket. Todd Kaminsky is a Democratic senator from Long Beach.

Photo of Todd Kaminsky, left, Willie Janeway, center, and Steven Englebright by Nancie Battaglia.

This essay originally appeared in the Adirondack Explorer, a nonprofit newsmagazine devoted to the protection and enjoyment of the Adirondack Park. Get a full print or digital subscription here.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com

14 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    I would like to see NY do much better at purchasing large undeveloped tracts of land for sale. In my opinion, state ownership of undeveloped land is the best way to control subdivision spraw and protect the environment.

  2. NoTrace says:

    Bizarre observation from the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Conservation Committees: “We are glad to see record-setting crowds coming to see the High Peaks Wilderness Area and other popular destinations.”

    Really? You’re “glad” – not “concerned”? It seems obvious given your respective roles that the proper stance should be “concerned”, at the very least.

    • Balian the Cat says:

      They are politicians. They have to say the thing that they believe most effectively straddles the fence and appeals to / appeases the most people or groups. Facts, common sense, personal beliefs, the truth, are all irrelevant to the analysis which produces their “position” on any one thing.

    • Boreas says:

      The immediately following sentence: “But the wear and tear on these over-loved locations makes us believe special measures are needed to protect their ecological health (water, forests, wildlife) and their wild character – that feeling of freedom and solitude possible only in wilderness.”

      Sounds like concern to me.

  3. Moose the Cat says:

    Perhaps we can thank the Governor’s ill-advised giant billboards and other PR foibles for the “record-setting crowds coming to see the High Peaks Wilderness Area.” Ill-advised and short-sighted, lacking strategic vision. Now shall we throw money at it to “fix it”?

  4. NoTrace says:

    Correctamundo: Create a problem that didn’t have to be created, and then laud yourself as the hero who will fix it – with taxpayer dollars.

  5. NoTrace says:

    The Adirondacks are, unfortunately, not the only place in the world where tourism is killing the very thing that brings the tourists, and the Adirondacks are no different in that respect than Venice or Barcelona, which are suffocated by tourists. These woods, and the experience they offer, are altered by the crush of humanity. Granted, you can find plenty of solace and solitude in the Adirondacks, but the jewels of the Park are being ruined by the crush of humanity. Love wilderness by leaving it alone.

    • Boreas says:

      7.8 billion and counting! There lies the rub.

      • NoTrace says:

        Bingo – birth control, oddly enough, will save the wilderness.

        • Charlie S says:

          “birth control, oddly enough, will save the wilderness.”:

          These kooks in power now, and their constituents, want to eliminate abortion NoTrace! Take away women’s rights to do as they please with their bodies. These are the same people who wish for less government in our (their) lives, but not when it comes to abortion. It’s okay for government to intervene there! Over-population is the problem. If we could just get rid of the dummies, the ones who create the problems due to their ignorance…that would eliminate quite a large lot in this country alone.

  6. Moo says:

    And, the big idea was to bring money to the local Adirondack businesses…but that is NOT what happened. Instead, they brought destruction to the wild lands. That big idea was a bad idea. Seriously, could no one the see this coming?? With so many other examples?? No Trace is right; throw money at it, try to “fix it”; attempt to look like a hero, but not take responsibility. Can these wild lands be protected from this now?

  7. Scotty says:

    The photo fits a long running theme. Two legislators from Long Island explaining how they will manage the Adirondacks. And between them, Willy, Ausable Club member and the hired hand of the rich to advocate for their agenda. That kinda says it all.

    They should a least have more sensitive PR. But they’ll never learn.