Posts Tagged ‘adirondack report’

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

State budget takeaways for the Adirondacks

a rowboat in a lake

The state budget is one month late, but we are finally seeing some budget bills. As of 4 p.m. on Monday, lawmakers were just beginning to vote on some of them. Of particular interest for Adirondack Park projects is the capital projects budget bill. This bill includes the Environmental Protection Fund, where many Adirondack-specific projects are appropriated. The recently released bill has the EPF at $400 million.

I’m in the process of noting some proposed spending, and will have a story if and when the bill passes. But in my quick skim so far here are a few things that stood out:

» Continue Reading.

Friday, April 28, 2023

High Peaks management meeting in May; Broadalbin beach update

broadalbin beach on a cloudy day

The firm the state Department of Environmental Conservation hired to start a High Peaks visitor use management framework is hosting a public meeting. DEC announced Otak Inc. will present their project’s goals and timeline at 5:30 p.m. on May 9 at the Harrietstown Town Hall Auditorium, 39 Main St., Saranac Lake. Following the presentation, “interactive discussion groups” will meet “to gain an understanding of public interests and concerns,” DEC said.

Otak is holding a meeting in the Catskills, too, to discuss its visitor use management project in the Kaaterskill Clove Area.

“DEC’s sustainable use initiatives require public participation to be successful,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, in a release. “Listening to public and stakeholder perspectives about the High Peaks and Kaaterskill Clove project areas will provide DEC with the important data to support successful strategies for balancing conservation and public access in these popular Forest Preserve destinations.”

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Bond Act on the road

bond act boat launch

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office announced today a statewide listening tour on the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. New York voters passed the $4.2 billion initiative in November. A public meeting will be held in the Adirondacks, though it’s not confirmed as to when or where.

Hochul said the listening tour will take place over the next few months. It “will offer an opportunity for the public, municipalities, and other potential applicants to learn how they can leverage these funds to help New York State reach our climate goals while growing our economy.”

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

APA could have new headquarters

The Adirondack Park Agency is studying the feasibility of moving its headquarters to the historic Paul Smith’s Power and Light building at 3 Main St. in Saranac Lake. Photo by Chloe Bennett

The Adirondack Park Agency could be moving four miles up the road to Saranac Lake. The APA and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said a feasibility study is underway to move the agency’s headquarters to the historic Paul Smith’s Power and Light building on Main Street.

The village police currently occupy that building, but there are discussions of creating a public safety complex on Petrova Avenue. The APA has $29 million from the state’s 2022 budget for a new headquarters, but whether it’s brand new or renovated, we’ll have to see (read more here).

For those of you on Twitter, an account called, “DoesNYHaveABudget” tweets a budget status daily, and today’s is “No.” Hochul and lawmakers authorized a second budget extender bill today, meaning negotiations could continue to next Monday.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Climate part of state budget delay

Gov Kathy Hochul, wearing red, at a podium

It looks like it could be another week or more before we have a state budget, which was due April 1. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement today said she is submitting a bill to the legislature to extend the budget deadline to April 10.

“New Yorkers are concerned about public safety, the rising cost of housing, and ensuring high-quality schools for all our kids, and any budget deal must make progress on these core issues,” Hochul said. “I have been negotiating in good faith with the legislature, but it is clear there is more work to be done before we reach an agreement.”

Hochul does not mention climate change in her statement, but that’s another issue coming up in budget negotiations. Energy Committee Chair Sen. Kevin Parker, wants to change the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Environmental groups say the changes are not for the better.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Microgrid proposed for Raquette Lake

These battery modules, supplied by the battery company BYD, show a similar-sized project to the one proposed in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. Photo courtesy of BYD

It’s the final countdown to the state budget, which was due on Saturday. We will keep you posted. It will be interesting to see if the Environmental Protection Fund gets a boost, and if Adirondack Park projects are carved out.

As that state works to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, developers are looking closely at the Adirondack Park. We’ve been writing mostly about large-scale solar projects, but we learned that a battery back-up system is also proposed in the park.

The hamlet of Raquette Lake could be the host site of 12 tractor-trailer-sized batteries that would work as a microgid. They would supply back-up energy from Raquette Lake to Old Forge, an area that experiences monthly power outages. Some residents have questions and concerns about the project. We tried answering some of those questions here.

These battery modules, supplied by the battery company BYD, show a similar-sized project to the one proposed in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. Photo courtesy of BYD

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

One-house budget proposals fund Adks, plus APA March meeting highlights

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

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.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Why we don’t use the term “overuse”

Panelists speak about diversity, equity and inclusion at Camp Chingachgook in Fort Ann last week. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

Camp Chingachgook in Fort Ann hosted a diversity, equity and inclusion panel on Friday evening providing interesting perspectives and discussion. The evening was sponsored by the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Next Generation Committee. The panel included Raul “Rocci” Aguirre, acting executive director of the Adirondack Council; Martha Swan, executive director and founder of John Brown Lives; Tiffany Rea-Fisher, director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative; and Pete Nelson, co-founder of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.

It was one of the first public appearances for Rea-Fisher in her new role and one of the first for Aguirre since Willie Janeway announced he was stepping down.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Big solar, plus APA court decisions

Solar panels

I sifted through the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting’s regulations and talked to some state and nonprofit sources about large-scale solar projects and the permitting process. Some of you have had questions about solar capacity factors and decommissioning, among other things, in my time covering these solar facility permits. We try to answer some of them for you here.

The Adirondack Park Agency lost two separate court decisions —one involving a marina permit on Lower Saranac Lake and another involving an herbicide permit on Lake George. The Court of Appeals case involving a private marina was the first to come out, and in an unanimous opinion judges criticized how the APA has been applying its wetlands regulations. We learned Judge Robert Muller, of the state Supreme Court in Warren County, issued a decision on a Lake George herbicide permit suit that scolded APA for being “one-sided” in its application review and said the agency should have held an adjudicatory hearing. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Adirondack Council leader to step down

lobby day 2020

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council for the last decade, is stepping down in September. The news follows leadership changes coming for other prominent Adirondack Park organizations including the Barkeater Trails Alliance and Protect the Adirondacks.

Janeway said he is not retiring, and he’s not sure what’s next. It was time for a transition, he said. You can read more here.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Budget requests for the park

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.

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.

You can read more about Tuesday’s environmental conservation budget hearing here.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Wild Forest roads questions continue

roads in wild forest

Adirondack Park Agency commissioners appear closer to making a decision on wild forest roads and what constitutes a “material increase.” In a more than hour-long discussion last week, they considered a fourth option that may be sent to public comment at next month’s meeting, showing that the other three options may be fading into the background.

These policy questions are important because they could determine whether long-used roads are closed and if local governments support future state land acquisitions. Roads also impact the park’s ecology and in a presentation before commissioners, APA staff showed just how much a relatively small strip of road can impact wildlife habitat, invasive species spread and hydrological systems.

But first, here’s a quick recap on this policy-dense matter that has been circulating since May (and arguably since 1972, though the questions were more recently pressed).

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Behind the scenes look at the governor’s budget reveal

Gov Kathy Hochul, wearing red, at a podium

Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul presented her $227 billion executive budget in Albany. Here’s a little glimpse into how it all unfolds for reporters in Albany.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, January 30, 2023

New diversity director; outgoing APA commissioner

Tiffany Rea-Fisher is the new director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.

The Adirondack Diversity Initiative has a new director starting next month, Tiffany Rea-Fisher. I spoke with her over the phone last week about her role as an area choreographer and her upcoming role at ADI. Rea-Fisher will take the helm after former Director Nicole Hylton-Patterson left in the fall.

I also spoke with members of ADI’s core team and staff with the Adirondack North Country Association, which houses the ADI program. There will be a push this state budgetary cycle for a $100,000 increase in what the state gave ADI last year ($300,000). You can read more about ADI’s new leader and the organization’s future in our story here.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Remembering Gary Lovett, forest expert

Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, presents at an invasive species meeting in October 2022 in Blue Mountain Lake. Lovett died in December.

I’m sorry to report that Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, died last month while cross country skiing in the Catskills. Lovett was a source I could often turn to about Adirondack forestry issues, and was most recently featured in our January/February issue for a story about hemlock woolly adelgid. I learned of his death this weekend from Mark Whitmore, of the New York State Hemlock Institute at Cornell University. Whitmore and Lovett had recently presented at an Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program summit on invasive species in October. Whitmore said Lovett’s “passing leaves a huge gap in New York’s scientific awareness of issues impacting our forests.”

» Continue Reading.

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