Thursday, January 6, 2022

State of the State Address offers promise for the Adirondacks

kathy hochul state of the state

Governor Hochul made history today as the first female Governor to deliver the State of the State address in New York. If her proposals come to fruition, she will make Adirondack history with her accomplishments as well.

The Governor noted during her speech that, “We are in a Climate Crisis. We must act like it.” She went on to underscore the connection between place and health, acknowledging that COVID-19 drove, “record use of our parks and shared spaces and with it, soaring maintenance needs.” A suite of State of the State proposals offer promise of a strong year for the Adirondacks.

Below you will find excerpts highlighting the great potential of Governor’s State of the State Address, in preserving Wilderness, protecting clean water, and fighting climate change in the Adirondacks:

Protect New York’s Forest Preserve Lands in the Catskills and the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks and Catskills are unique and vital resources for New York. But since they are managed as wild forest lands, the Adirondacks and Catskills are even more susceptible to damage and deterioration from increased use. To preserve these state gems, Governor Hochul will leverage the Environmental Protection Fund to invest in helping New Yorkers enjoy the Adirondacks and Catskills responsibly. This investment will allow for critical actions designed to address overuse through comprehensive planning for the future, including trail safety and climate resiliency. It will also support stewards to engage visitors and the community to ensure that all of us can benefit from these shared natural resources. These actions will ensure the Adirondacks and Catskills are preserved as wild forest lands while still allowing visitors to enjoy their stunning beauty for years to come.

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group report recommends Visitor Use Management, a 21st Century approach to recreation management that is used at major National Parks. It is an iterative approach to protecting wilderness values and visitor safety by addressing parking and summit congestion, search and rescue operations, and trail erosion. Environmental groups are calling for a $500 million Environmental Protection Fund this year, and this funding should enable a $500,000 investment in Visitor Use Management to address overuse for the Adirondack High Peaks Region.

Also as part of this investment, the state should fund 20 new five-person trail crews per year that would rebuild the “worst of the worst” Adirondack trails. This would cost $5 million annually.

Our Forest Rangers have been on the frontlines, rescuing ill-prepared and injured hikers and paddlers. A new $15 million a year investment could hire 100 additional Forest Rangers, other staff, and provide the equipment and training they need.

 

Increase Funding for the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act to $4 Billion

To demonstrate New York’s ongoing commitment to the environment, Governor Hochul has proposed a $1 billion increase to the “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act,” which will bring its total to $4 billion. The Bond Act will be on the ballot in November 2022, which if approved by the public would boost funding streams for climate change mitigation, restoration and flood risk reduction projects, and other environmental protection programs.

The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is projected to create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs. Carbon Sequestration is an essential component of meeting our state’s climate goals, and the Adirondacks have an abundance of forests pull more carbon out of the air than any man made infrastructure ever could. Nature’s factory needs workers, and Bond Act projects will play an integral role in achieving climate justice and fostering community resilience to increasingly frequent and powerful storm events in the Park.

 

A suite of climate commitments were also made as part of today’s speech:

Accelerate the Renewable Energy Economy to Protect Climate Health and Create Jobs

  • Strengthen New York’s Offshore Wind Leadership and Make a Nation-Leading $500 Million Investment in Offshore Wind Manufacturing and Supply Chain
  • Power One-Third of New York City with Wind, Solar, and Hydro
  • Double Energy Storage Deployment to at Least 6 Gigawatts by 2030
  • Make New York State a Green Hydrogen Hub
  • Phase Out New York City’s Most-Polluting Fossil-Fuel Facilities
  • Achieve Net-Zero in State Investment Portfolios by 2040
  • Create High-Quality Solar Jobs for More New Yorkers

 

Decarbonize New York’s Buildings

  • Achieve 2 Million Electrified or Electrification-Ready Homes by 2030
  • Commit to Zero On-Site Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Construction No Later Than 2027 and Enact Nation-Leading Building Codes Legislation
  • Bring Green Energy Solutions to Over 1,000 Public Schools
  • Harden Infrastructure and Improve Reliability for Emergency Services Statewide
  • Create 3 Virtual Power Plants Using State Government Buildings as a Proving Ground
  • Begin Construction on Major Retrofit Showcase Projects in 2022

 

Accelerate New York’s Adoption of Electric, Zero-Emissions Vehicles

  • Invest $1 Billion to Support EV Adoption and Infrastructure
  • Electrify the State Fleet by 2035
  • Achieve 100% Electric School Buses by 2035
  • Transform Hunts Point into a Clean Distribution Hub

 

Other exciting announcements that will benefit the Adirondacks include:

Protect Wetlands That Clean Our Water Naturally

Wetlands provide a natural approach to flood protection and clean water, saving us money on hard infrastructure. Governor Hochul will propose legislation to expand New York’s wetlands program by improving mapping requirements and enhancing regulations around smaller wetlands.

Combat Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Support Localities

The Governor will dedicate grants for septic system replacements, since replacing inadequate septic systems can greatly reduce the amount of wastewater-related nutrients that end up in a stream or lake. Rather than just treating HABs once they have formed, these grants will enable a proactive approach to mitigating these environmental hazards before they start.

Spur Further Investment in the North Country and Adirondacks Through ORDA  

The State will provide additional support to expand use and enjoyment of outdoor recreational facilities in the Southern Adirondacks, with investments going toward development of the North Creek Ski Bowl at Gore Mountain, amplifying year-round park amenities that include mountain biking, hiking, and sports fields. Plans include a new ADA-compliant recreation center and a new chairlift designed for 12-month use.

In addition, the Governor mentioned the importance of common ground, made proposals to improve rural broadband, increased funding for climate smart farming, addressing equity and justice issues, and supporting communities with infrastructure, housing and jobs. These are all items the Adirondack Council and others have been advocating for, and applaud.

An impressive suite of announcements offer excitement and hope for the Adirondacks in 2022. The Executive Budget will be presented in the coming weeks, and will detail how Governor Hochul intends to achieve this ambitious agenda.

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers the 2022 State of the State address on Wednesday in Albany. Photo courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration

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Kevin Chlad is Director of Government Relations of the Adirondack Council, a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.

The Council envisions a park composed of large wilderness areas, surrounded by working farms and forests and vibrant, local communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Council members and supporters live in all 50 United States.




5 Responses

  1. louis curth says:

    As we ponder the good possibilities outlined within the governor’s “state of the state” message, we should also not forget that today is January 6th – an anniversary of shame for all who are proud to be Americans.

    The silent treachery of our north country Republicans, who still remain unwilling to denounce Trump’s scurrilous election lies or his incitement of the violent insurrection to overthrow democracy last January 6th, betrays both their oath of office and also their obligation to work together to achieve good governance. At what point does this treachery become treason that will help bring about the end of America’s democracy?

  2. Pete says:

    “We are in a climate crisis” Maybe so, maybe not. But in any case, it’s a global issue. Anything that one state in one country does unilaterally is an insignificant drop in the bucket in terms of affecting climate. However, spending huge amounts of taxpayer money and/or implementing severe regulations can have a significant detrimental impact on the state’s economy and everyday lives of the citizens in both the short and long term. For any mitigation of a climate crisis to work, the changes have to be world-wide, Putting New Yorkers behind the 8-ball with regulations and government spending causes more harm than good. The governor should put less emphasis on addressing on politically correct climate change and more on making changes that will have an immediate direct effect on the taxpayers and citizens of this state.

  3. Diane says:

    Thanks for the summary, Kevin. Now for the budget and the details! Thanks for all you and your team do to keep the Adirondacks front and center for elected officials.

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