Little introduces plethora of bills that could affect Adirondacks

Sen. Betty Little

Sen. Betty Little

Owners of leased hunting camps would gain the ability to prevent the state from purchasing land under one of a state senator’s proposed bills.

Long-serving Sen. Betty Little, whose district covers much of the Adirondack Park, introduced the Adirondack Sportsmen’s Club Preservation Act on Jan. 4. It’s one of nine bills she sponsored. Others could have effects on school reimbursement rates in districts that have Forest Preserve lands, introduce new tax breaks for conservation purposes and change rules for private campgrounds.

Hunting-fishing club preservation

The sportsmen’s act would grant any club that is located on private land the right of first refusal if that land is to be sold to the state. The act would not prevent the state from purchasing land, but would allow hunting and fishing clubs to “purchase or attain a long term lease of the land utilized by the club.”

“Sportsmen’s clubs shall be deemed to retain exclusive access to and usage rights for hunting and fishing, while allowing public access to the land for other recreational opportunities,” the bill reads. While the bill would not limit the state’s purchases, it would amend current law to prevent the state from using money to “acquire lands on which hunting and fishing camps are located in the lease agreements are to be discontinued.”

Removing value of Forest Preserve from school district apportionment

Little also introduced Bill 388, which would affect the appointment of state money to school districts by removing the valuation of state Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

“The actual valuation of a school district shall not include the valuation of any real property within a state forest preserve that is either in the Adirondack Park or the Catskill Park,” the proposed bill reads. The bill would exclude “the valuation of state forest preserve lands … from the definition of ‘actual valuation’ for purposes of apportionment of state moneys to school districts.”

Search and rescue, guides and outfitters

Bill 761 would allow the state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers to develop a training program for volunteer search-and-rescue operations. The DEC currently offers a one-day training program for search-and-rescue volunteers, but the new bill would train and credential volunteers for “wild land search and rescue personnel to assist and respond along with the forest ranger force.”

Bill 390 would introduce several new aspects to guiding and outfitting services. Guides would be legally prohibited from guiding while intoxicated, and outfitters would be prevented from offering the services of a guide who appears to be intoxicated.

Guides and outfitters would also need to provide customers with a written disclosure of the terms of hire, and the bill would add penalties to violators of the new guiding regulations, including suspension of guiding licenses.

Taxes and contracts

Bill 368 would amend the Agriculture and Markets Law to allow state contracts valued at less than $50,000 to be approved and executed without the approval of the state comptroller.

Little also introduced a bill that would create a state parks fund as well as to add a line to state taxes that would let citizens make a contribution to the fund.

“Monies of the fund … shall be made available to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the operation and maintenance of state parks,” the bill reads. OPRHP oversees parks, campgrounds and public areas outside of the Adirondacks and Catskills, like Macomb State Park in Peru.

Meanwhile, Bill 138 would create a tax credit for businesses and individuals called the Forestry Stewardship and Habitat Conservation Credit.

“In the case of a taxpayer who owns land that is subject to an agreement with the (DEC), by which such land is committed to forestry stewardship, or habitat conservation, or both, there shall be allowed a credit for twenty-five percent of the real property taxes paid on such land,” the bill says. This credit would be limited to parcels greater than 25 acres and has undergone a DEC inspection. The credit would not be allowed in combination with any other similar credit.

Private campgrounds

Two bills that Little introduced this session deal with private campgrounds. The first, Bill 751, would let campground owners place a lien on RVs and motor homes in the event of non-payment for camping services. The owner would be allowed to file the lien after 30 days of non-payment.

The second bill, 141, amends Executive Law to redefine what a campground is in the Adirondack Park, making it “a tract of land … where five or more campsites are made available for temporary or seasonal overnight occupancy.

For more information on Little’s legislation, visit www.nysenate.gov/senators/betty-little.

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