Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Council celebrates legislative victories

bees on honeycomb

Native Plants, Bees, Child Safety Win, Wildlife Awaits Action  in 2023 Legislative Session

The Adirondack Council is celebrating passage of three bills that would protect birds and bees from pesticides, protect native aquatic plants from invasive species, and protect the integrity of the NY Constitution’s “forever wild” clause.

The Council is also urging the NYS Assembly to pass two bills already passed by the Senate, when the Assembly returns on June 20.  Those bills would ban contests that reward the killing of wildlife, and would require state transportation officials to provide better protections to wildlife at highway crossings.  Top priority sites would get federal funding to facilitate their construction.

Before the Senate ended its session on June 9, both houses had approved bills to: 

  • Prohibit the use of noenicitinoid insecticides in corn, wheat and soy seeds, because they are harmful to pollinators such as bees and birds
  • Allow the creation of Aquatic Invasive Species Control Districts to respond to infestations of non-native aquatic plants
  • Bring recently constructed sports facilities into compliance with the Constitutional protections for the Forest Preserve.

These bills now await approval by Governor Hochul.

“Lakes, bees and birds were the big winners so far,” said Raul J. Aguirre, Acting Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “The Adirondack Council thanks Senator Pete Harckham and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and the sponsors of these important bills. We urge Governor Hochul to sign these bills into law.  We also urge the Assembly to ban wildlife-killing contests and require transportation officials to provide safer highway crossings for wildlife when it returns next week.”

Harckham, D-Peekskill, and Glick, D-Manhattan, chairs the Legislature’s Environmental Conservation Committees.

Aguirre expressed disappointment that the Senate had adjourned without nominations from the Governor to fill vacant seats and expired terms on the Adirondack Park Agency board. The APA is the state’s principal land-use regulator and planning agency in the park.

ln addition to the numerous victories for Adirondack wildlife, the Adirondack Council is cheering first passage of an after-the-fact constitutional amendment that will authorize the work already completed at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg cross country ski center for the FISU World University Games.

Aguirre said, “Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Billy Jones deserve recognition for standing up for the integrity of Article XIV of our state’s constitution, declaring the lands of the state within the Adirondack Park as forever wild. While the facility upgrades are already complete, they know that passing this amendment is the right thing to do for the Adirondack region and the people of this state who are co-owners of these lands.”

Birds and Bees Protection Act  

S.1856-A (Hoylman-Sigal) / A. 7640 (Glick) discontinues the use of a neonicotinoid insecticide on any corn, soybean or wheat seeds for planting, or application or treatment of outdoor ornamental plants and turf. This bill recognizes that “neonics” threaten the bees, birds, and other pollinators that are critical to New York State’s food security, agricultural economy, and environment.

Scientific evidence from Cornell University confirms that neonics contribute to the decline of pollinator populations in New York State, which account for $439 million in ecosystem services to our apples, tomatoes, squash, and other agricultural commodities. Since the 1990s, neonics have been used to permeate plants to make their exterior poisonous to insects.

This neurotoxic insecticide is widely used on and off farms, moves easily in rain and irrigation water, and persists in soils for years. The loss of pollinator species causes ecosystem-wide damage as fish, amphibians, and birds rely on pollinators for food. Human exposure to neonics through contaminated food and water have been linked to deformations of the human brain and heart.

ATV Child Safety 

The Legislature as part of the budget, passed a new minimum age for operating an all-terrain vehicle, which would rise from 10 to 14, if signed by the Governor.

Business Left Unfinished in 2023  

By the end of June 2023, four seats on the Adirondack Park Agency board will either be vacant or have members serving on expired terms. Following two recent court losses by the Adirondack Park Agency, Governor Hochul passed up an opportunity to appoint new and returning board members that could bring fresh and diverse backgrounds and expertise to the Agency.

By June 2024, six seats on the Adirondack Park Agency board will either be vacant or have members serving on expired terms. Last year, Governor Hochul appointed Benita Law-Diao as the first person of color to serve on the Agency’s board. The Adirondack Council hopes that Governor Hochul will continue to build on this progress in the coming year, bringing additional expertise in conservation science and environmental law to the Agency.

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Before John Sheehan joined the Adirondack Council's staff in 1990, he was the managing editor of the Malone Evening Telegram, and previously worked as a journalist for the Troy Record, (Schenectady) Daily Gazette, Watertown Daily Times and Newsday. For the past 20 years, John has been the voice of the Adirondack Council on radio and television, and on the pages of local, regional and national media.

11 Responses

  1. If the APA board needs fresh new diverse back grounds then maybe the Legislative Environmental Committee should have leaders who actually represent the people who live in the park instead of people from NYC .

    • nathan says:

      Agree, there should only be natives, not from other regions or areas. give jobs to local who care about locals.

      • Boreas says:

        The Adirondack Park “belongs” to ALL NYS citizens, and the APA is a NYS agency tasked to manage both the private and Forest Preserve lands within the Blue Line. Local residents should certainly have a strong voice in the APA, but the Park is not theirs alone. NYS residents outside of the Park need representation as well.

  2. nathan says:

    There should be a complete ban on noenicitinoid, they are basically forever poisons!
    it took years to track down why there was wandering bee syndrome and it nearly wiped out all of our honeybees, and all because of noenicitinoid’s, millions to possibly billion lost in agricultural pollinating croups lost and the bee industry was devastated

    • Boreas says:

      Agree. Those chemicals should be high on a long list of other chemicals with both known and unknown/untested harmful effects.

  3. Rob says:

    Are they really considering constructing something to provide safe highway crossing for wildlife?? Am I understanding this correctly in the reading???

    • Boreas says:

      “Considering” and doing are two different things. I have seen this infrastructure in certain areas out West and they seem relatively innocuous other than the chain-link fence funneling the animals toward the overpass. I believe they are mostly designed to reduce large mammal collisions, but obviously many smaller critters are welcome to use them. But I have no idea on effectiveness.

      “Lower” vertebrates are usually served quite well by WIDE culverts near wetlands that provide dry soil/stone on either side of the water. Small-diameter pipes with flowing water aren’t great for some reptiles and ‘phibs.

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “require state transportation officials to provide better protections to wildlife at highway crossings.”

    Does this mean they’ll stop constructing cement barriers in medians, versus the old-fashioned way of metal railings with gaps below? To think of all the animals slaughtered because of those cement barriers. They cross the road, or highway….possum, coons, squirrels, beaver, turtles….. only to be obstructed from going further and in their confusion what with cars coming and going, they commit suicide by going back into traffic. This is so obvious! We don’t think about the wild animals when we construct roads! We don’t think period! If we did we would stop with the cement barriers and we would also build tunnels under the roads so that the wild kind can safely pass under the roads. Just horrible all of the senseless loss! We just don’t care enough to do what’s right! If they’re starting to lean this way…..it’s about time!

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Lower” vertebrates are usually served quite well by WIDE culverts near wetlands that provide dry soil/stone on either side of the water.”

    > Yes! And to think how many bullfrogs, or frogs in general, turtles, lizards…could be spared were the humankind to have any sense of imagination whatsoever!

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