Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lawmakers want clean water funds

State Senate


On Wednesday I attended part of the state Legislature’s joint environmental conservation budget hearing in Albany. State leaders and lawmakers cram the future of New York’s agriculture, parks, environment and energy into one day. You can watch the whole 13 hours and 20 minutes of it on YouTube.

I’m unclear why the state doesn’t separate energy, the environment or agriculture into their own days. The sheer number of topics legislators fly through, however, provides a fascinating snapshot of what’s happening across the state.

In the audience much earlier in the day and waiting to testify were some familiar Adirondack faces including Peter Bauer, of Protect the Adirondacks, Cathy Pedler, of the Adirondack Mountain Club and Dan Kelting of Paul Smith’s College, accompanied by Zoe Smith, also of the college and an Adirondack Park Agency board member.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, of the Nature Conservancy, sat in the audience with the top DEC officials including her husband Sean Mahar, executive deputy commissioner of the DEC and Commissioner Basil Seggos. Jessica Ottney Mahar would later testify in opposition to the DEC over a number of things including that the department needs more staff (the governor has proposed keeping DEC staffing flat). Seggos told legislators, “we have the staff necessary to carry out our mission.”

Kelting was in the final panel, which came before legislators just after 10:30 p.m. He was joined by Art Perryman, an Adirondack forest ranger, and Matt Krug, an Adirondack environmental conservation officer. It seems the rangers and encon officers are the last to testify every year. “Best for last,” Krug joked on X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter. And every year a dedicated dozen or so legislators remain to hear the last panels and ask them questions. The hearing didn’t finish until about 11 p.m. Smith didn’t make the following morning’s Adirondack Park Agency meeting in Ray Brook.

We are working on a number of stories following up on topics from the budget hearing, and will continue to cover it as lawmakers and the executive make changes. A final 2024-2025 budget is due April 1.

One change I am predicting we can expect to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $233 billion budget is the addition of more Clean Water Infrastructure Act funds. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were upset with Hochul’s 50-percent cut.

You can read more on that here.

Adirondack Park Agency

The DEC is holding off on testing longer stays at Rollins Pond Campground. It made that and other changes to the campground’s unit management plan, which the APA adopted last week. You can read more about that and Golden Beach Campground’s unit management plan here.

Rollins Pond Campground sign

People who camp at Rollins Pond Campground must drive through Fish Creek Campground to get to their sites. Photo by Mike Lynch.

Up for public comments

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/index.cfm.

  • The APA is proposing to revise its general wetlands permit, applying it to certain minor-regulated activities. More information on the changes can be reviewed here: https://apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2024/02/regulatory.htm. The APA will accept public comments until March 22. Comments should be directed to David Plante, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, NYS Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, 1133 NYS Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 emailed to RPComments@apa.ny.gov. The public also may call 518-891-4050.

Environmental Notice Bulletin

View all the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s weekly environmental notice bulletin projects.

  • Waters Edge Lodge, LLC is seeking to operate a new Class A Marina at 3654 Lakeshore Drive (formerly known as Golden Sands) in the town of Lake George. It plans to offer one boat rental, 15 non-motorized boat rentals, berthing for four rental slips and berthing for one charter boat. The project also proposes the reduction of a dock to a straight pier and the operation of a new tour boat by Gary Ethier. Public comments may be sent to Joe Thouin at the Lake George Park Commission: joe@lgpc.state.ny.us.
  • The DEC wants to regulate speeds along the Adirondack Rail Trail, as the speed limit is currently 55 miles per hour. To do so, it has requested an emergency rule making available, which you can read in the state register: https://dos.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2024/02/020724.pdf. The public may submit comments on the emergency proposed rulemaking through April 8. Written comments can be submitted to Comment.AdkRailTrailRegs@dec.ny.gov or to Robert Ripp, NYS DEC – Region 5 Office Division of Lands and Forests, 1115 NYS Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12983.

Photo at top: Sen. Peter Harckham, center, chair of the state Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, listens during a budget hearing on Wednesday in Albany. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig.

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

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