April 1 is around the corner, which is when the state budget is due. One-house budget bills have been released, and it looks like both the state Assembly and Senate would like carve-outs in the Environmental Protection Fund for specific Adirondack and Catskill parks projects. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget had suggested Adirondack-specific allocations would still be in the proposed $400 million EPF, but the line items for them were deleted. Legislators want them back.
Of note, both budget proposals appropriate $10 million under the EPF’s State Land Stewardship funding for the Catskill and Adirondack forest preserves. Many groups were pleased with this, from the Adirondack Mountain Club, to the Adirondack Lakes Alliance, to local government officials.
The Assembly’s budget included a boost to the EPF, from Hochul’s proposed $400 million to $435 million. It boosted clean water infrastructure funds from $500 million to $600 million. The Assembly would like a carve-out of $25 million in water funds for addressing harmful algal blooms, something that was not in the executive budget proposal.
Both the Assembly and Senate put money back in their proposed budgets for the Survey of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems. The Assembly proposed $4 million for that project, while the Senate has proposed $5.5 million. Hochul’s budget didn’t include any funding for the study.
The Senate also hopes to boost investment in the Adirondack Diversity Initiative from $300,000 to $400,000.
We will have to see how the final budget shakes out.
The Adirondack Park Agency had a busy meeting last week. I spoke with Executive Director Barbara Rice and APA Counsel Chris Cooper about the two court decisions the agency lost earlier this month. Both Rice and Cooper said they are still reviewing the decisions and the agency’s next steps. Zachary Matson and I wrote a round-up story about these court cases.
Commissioners had a lengthy discussion about some proposed policy changes not involving court decisions. One was on edits to a policy for making policies, and another was on changes to the public comment period. Some Adirondack Park organizations were particularly concerned about the APA’s proposed public comment changes, which would prohibit public comment at the start of the APA’s meetings and move it to the end of the meeting. It also changed the deadline for when commissioners would review public comments submitted about the agency’s upcoming meetings. Some argued the deadline was too tight. The APA hasn’t issued a public comment notice as of Monday morning about these policies, but the board voted to put them out for public comment on Thursday. The policies and their edits may be viewed here: https://apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2023/03/Administration.htm.
Property owners on Spitfire Lake in Franklin County came back to the APA for a variance to expand their boathouse. The variance request was denied in a 5-5 vote. You can read more about that here.
A new way to interpret “no material increase” on wild forest roads in the park is out for public comment through April 17. Commissioners gave some insight on how they may want to interpret this 50-year-old question before the agency, and a decision could come as early as May. You can read more on that here.
The state is gearing up for the $4.2 billion environmental bond act voters passed last year. In a news release last week, “The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) has developed the following eligibility guidelines to implement funding under the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 (Bond Act).” Public comments on these guidelines will be accepted until 5 p.m., April 14. You can read more about them and how to comment here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20230315_not0.html.
Members and staff of the Adirondack Park Agency sit around a table listening to a presentation during the March 16 meeting in Ray Brook. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig
This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.
Thanks, Gwen, for your dedicated and informative reporting, I keep up with it daily, as available. But I sit on the edge of my chair waiting for the next insult from the APA’s failure to Protect our “forever wild” forest preserve. We and the wildlife just need more snowmobiles and ATVs! Where is the “C” in DEC?
Best regards, Seymour
Re: ‘Board split over precedent and consequences’
“Commissioners split on the variance, with some worried about the precedence of approval and others worried about the unintended consequences of denial.”
> This is what occurs when things go political…..which way to turn? Do we do what’s right, what’s in the best interests of the ecosystems, or do we do what’s best for a few seekers of temporary pleasures? Do we swing the way of the public good, or do we go with special interests (in this case Property owners on Spitfire Lake in Franklin County)? Do we act in accordance to the psyche of our constituents or do we man up and do what is really right? Which will benefit “I” the most? Decisions.
Instead of standing the moral ground and doing what’s right, and since fishes and frogs and liquid cannot put up a defense for themselves, we’ll generally go which way the wind blows, or whichever way fits our self-love mold (including those boat-owners on Spitfire Lake). It is not in us to fight due to our short-sightedness, not enough of us anyway! There are so few of us left anymore, or seemingly so, who will act in accordance to what will amount to the greatest good for others or for the ecosystems which are incapable of resisting attack from the humankind.
Whether we be aware of it or not, the virgin nature we unceasingly inflict harm upon…tis the very thing we are dependent upon for our own survival. We need clean water, clean air! We need the birds and bees and the flowers and trees. We need all which we continually are bent upon annihilating! We need pollen! There’s no hope for us, and worse….. there’ll be nothing left for our progeny to delight upon before the second ‘Big Bang’ comes to put us out of our misery which seems closer by the day. Especially so when we hear Putin stirring up the need to start dropping nukes as a requirement to save the Russian race from the evil empire America. America evil? Where the hey could he possibly get that from?
We get closer to Putin launching a missile this way everyday. Along with China and N Korea. Not sure which of the 3 we need to worry about the most.