The Adirondack Council, an environmental advocacy organization with offices in Elizabethtown, today expressed concern with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, saying it liked the parts about improving rural infrastructure and tourism but didn’t hear much about investments in the quality of the state’s environment.
“The Adirondack Council is pleased that Governor Cuomo has devoted so much time and energy to Adirondack issues over the past year,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director. “We hope that his enthusiasm translates into additional funding in his upcoming State Budget. The park’s environment needs better care. Its 130 small communities need growth that is compatible with environmental protection. We look forward to a state budget that will stand as proof of his commitment to the environment, because we didn’t hear much about those issues today.”
Janeway pointed out that the Cuomo administration had added funding to the Environmental Protection Fund.
“We are pleased that the Governor mentioned the Environmental Protection Fund and took credit for adding money to it last session, for the first time in many years,” he said. “But more than 100 organizations will be calling on the Governor to increase the EPF to $200 million this year.
Janeway also urged caution with regulatory reforms.
“As for the Governor’s plans for regulatory reform, we caution him to seek reforms that will not damage the Adirondack Park’s clean waters, clean air and open spaces,” he said. “Those are not just environmental concerns, but economic ones. We need to keep the park forever wild for everyone.”
In reference to the Governor’s plan to invite major political leaders to the Finger Lakes for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, Janeway said he wanted to see a similar event inside the Blue Line.
“With or without the Governor, we hope there will be a 2014 Adirondack Challenge this summer that brings additional attention to the park’s new public lands and waters -- as well as bringing new business to the surrounding, gateway communities.”
Finally, Janeway said the organization would be watching carefully the Governor’s plan for highway improvements just north of the Adirondack Park. An elevated interstate highway between Watertown and Plattsburgh could isolate the Adirondack Park from wildlife migration pathways to Canada and the Great Lakes.
In the Legislative Session ahead, Janeway said the Adirondack Council will be seeking:
•An Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) of $200 million or more (a $47-million increase over 2013);
•Improvements to the Adirondack Park Agency Act and updates of the agency’s 40-year-old rules for private land development;
•Transformational improvements to invasive species controls;
•Measures to address greenhouses gas emissions, as well as the impact of climate change on the park’s ecology and rural communities; and,
•Laws or regulations that keep all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) off of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.