This week's release of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2011-12 executive budget ruffled a lot of feathers throughout the state.
Education lobbyists and health care officials cringed at sweeping cuts to school aid and Medicaid, while public employee unions said they would fight Cuomo on a potential plan to layoff 9,800 state workers.
But leaders in the environmental community were relatively pleased with Cuomo's fiscal plan.
For starters, Cuomo neither increased nor decreased the Environmental Protection Fund - it remains flat at $134 million. That figure includes $17.5 million for land acquisition, $3.8 million for invasive species mitigation, $2.9 million for water quality, and $16.2 million for state land stewardship.
The fund also provides monies for major purchases that would otherwise require borrowing.
Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan says Cuomo's budget, as it relates to the environment, stands in stark contrast to recent plans offered up by former Gov. David Paterson.
Last year, Paterson caused a firestorm when he repeatedly tried to cut environmental and parks spending.
Sheehan says Cuomo's budget could be considered a major victory for the environmental community.
"We are pleased to see this," he said. "It shows that this governor is not only interested in protecting the governor, but also he has a better sense of where the budget can be cut without destroying the very things that are most important to the people who live in this state."
Sheehan says Paterson declared war on the environment last year. This year, he says Cuomo has left the door open for negotiation - and he hopes lawmakers will provide additional funding for the EPF as they begin parsing through Cuomo's budget.
Mike Carr is executive director of the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
"We're very excited and hopeful that we'll have a chance to work with Gov. Cuomo and his team to move some very exciting projects forward across the state - that includes some open space projects and clean drinking water projects as well," he said. "This is a real turning point, I think, for the environment as it pertains to the state budget. We're very grateful to the governor and his team."
Carr says Cuomo seems to be signaling that he places a big emphasis on the environment.
But some lawmakers are digging in their heels. State Senator Betty Little - who is already developing a close relationship with the new governor - says she still opposes any future land purchases in the Adirondacks.
"We have enough Forest Preserve land in the Adirondacks," she said. "There are a few spots that could use preservation - OK Slip Falls, the Blue Ridge, and some of the Finch land - but to set aside that kind of acreage and those timbering opportunities - which are a renewable resource - I think would be a mistake."
And although the EPF survived Cuomo's budget unscathed - some of the state agencies charged with managing the environment are gearing up for more cuts.
Cuomo has proposed to dissolve the Tug Hill Commission, which would close the Watertown office and eliminate all current positions.
Additionally, he wants to eliminate all statutory references to the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform - which was created by former Gov. George Pataki.
Cuomo's budget also calls for 10 percent cuts at the Adirondack Park Agency and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Sheehan says the APA is already below its authorized staffing level, so the agency may not suffer further job losses.
Finally, Cuomo has proposed a five percent cut at the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a six percent cut at the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.