Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee looks at dozens of bills

Several relate to the Adirondack Park, invasive species

The state Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee has more than 240 bills before it during this year’s session, and quite a few could have an impact on the Adirondacks if passed.

The committee is considering bills ranging from keeping skies dark to how private companies deal with nuisance animals, as well as a few that would have a direct impact on lands within the Blue Line.

Each of these bills has a long way to go before becoming law. The committee can vote on approval of a bill, but it would still have to pass both the state Senate and Assembly’s full vote before Gov. Andrew Cuomo could sign it into law.

Adirondack Park

One bill introduced by Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, is a joint resolution between the Assembly and Senate calling for a constitutional amendment so the state can sell the former Camp Gabriels prison in Gabriels. The parcel has been auctioned multiple times, but sales have fallen through due to potential legal challenges from environmentalists upholding the state constitution’s “forever wild” clause. Once the state stops using a facility within the Adirondack Park, that land can potentially be considered part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, which the constitution says cannot be sold.

Another bill, introduced by Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright, would create a commission to study how the state’s administrative use lands within the Adirondacks are used.

“This bill would establish a thirteen-member commission to examine existing land-use management practices for certain classifications of state forest preserve lands including state administrative, and to prepare a report containing the status of any unit management plan, a map of the management units, an inventory of natural resources, and, an inventory of existing infrastructure, including buildings on the national register of historic places,” the bill’s description says.

Jones also introduced a bill that would let the state Adirondack Park Agency classify buildings on Forest Preserve lands as historical, similar to how Great Camp Santanoni and the St. Regis and Hurricane mountain fire towers have been preserved. The bill would allow the APA to designate “any lands or buildings located within the Forest Preserve that are listed or eligible to be listed on the national register of historic places shall be considered for historical classification by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and consult with the department of environmental conservation in developing unit management plans.”

Assemblyman Dan Stec has introduced a bill that would designate Paradox Lake in the eastern Adirondacks as an inland waterway, paving the way for the town of Schroon to get waterfront revitalization money.

Invasive species

A trio of bills would help the state and homeowners fight invasive species, including one bill that would add the Asian longhorned tick to the invasive species list.

Also under consideration is a bill that would allow “the use of benthic barriers to control invasive aquatic plants around docks.” Benthic barriers can be set on the bottom of lakes, ponds and other waterways to prevent plants from growing.

The third bill would expand the definition of “invasive species” to better allow the state to fight off infestations.

“This legislation will expand the definition of invasive species to include infestations that are large enough to be considered harmful and threatening to environmental and human health, including those by insects that carry vector-borne diseases including Lyme disease and West Nile Virus,” the bill’s explanatory memo says.

Other outdoor bills

The committee is also considering a couple dozen bills that could have an impact on hunting, fishing and trapping. An article highlighting those bills was published in Thursday’s Enterprise.

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