Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $237 billion state budget did not include carve-outs for visitor safety and management for the Adirondack and Catskills parks in the $400 million environmental protection fund. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has said the money is still available for those items, but Commissioner Basil Seggos noted in his testimony last week that there are differences in opinion over whether an earmark is needed.
Several Adirondack Park organizations called for the line item to be restored. Some, including the Adirondack Mountain Club, also called for it to be boosted from last year’s $8 million to $10 million.
More from the hearing
Forest Ranger Arthur Perryman, who patrols parts of the Adirondack Park and is also a union representative, also used his testimony at last week’s hearing to call for the passage of a 20-year retirement benefit. Perryman suggested the late Forest Ranger Capt. Christopher Kostoss, who died by suicide, may still be alive if he had been able to retire sooner. You can read that story here.
The latest large solar project
Last week’s budget hearing also included a number of questions about renewable energy projects, including how state agencies are balancing farmland preservation and large-scale solar development. Later in the week, solar developer Boralex Inc. held an open house about the largest proposed solar facility in the Adirondack Park, 40 megawatts near Great Sacandaga Lake in the Town of Mayfield. The approximately 200 acres of panels is proposed on Close’s Dairy Farm. Farmer Jon Close spoke with the Explorer Thursday night and said leasing some of his farmland would help keep the operation running. He’s hopeful that once the solar panels are decommissioned, the land could revert back to farming.
What is also interesting about this project is that permitting for it will be under the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, a state organization created in 2020 to streamline authorization for large-scale renewable energy projects. That means commissioners at the Adirondack Park Agency, the agency charged with overseeing public and private development and long-range planning in the park, will not be reviewing it for a permit. The APA said it will be providing input on the project.
More to Explore
In case you missed it, the futures of two closed Adirondack Park prisons are still in limbo. A panel of experts talked about redevelopment proposals. Read more here.
Our new climate reporter Chloe Bennett talked to former National Hockey League player Mike Richter about how climate change is impacting outdoor ice skating on lakes and ponds. This winter has been abysmal for ice skating and other icy events. For example, the Lake George Land Conservancy had to cancel its annual Walk on Water to Dome Island because Lake George had not frozen over. You can read Chloe’s story about thinning ice here.
From left, Justin Driscoll, acting president and CEO of the New York Power Authority; Doreen Harris, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; and Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, testify before lawmakers during a joint budget hearing on Feb. 14 in the New York State Capitol in Albany. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig
This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.