Adirondack Council asks state for more Adirondack funding

ALBANY — The Adirondack Council is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to add several environmental initiatives for the Adirondack Park to the final state budget, which is supposed to be approved by Cuomo and the state Legislature by April 1.

The environmental group also thanked the governor for funding several environmental programs already included in the budget. The budget will continue rollout of over $2.5 billion in clean water funding plus $300 million in the Environmental Protection Fund, and contains $65 million to combat algae blooms in upstate lakes. The governor also submitted a proposal long championed by the Council and other organizations for forest property tax exemption amendments that will incentivize improved private forest stewardship. Inside the Adirondack Park, the Council approved of the governor directing new funding for winter sports venue improvements and snowmobile trail grooming vehicles.

The Council opposes the governor’s plan to change the state’s property tax payments to local governments that host state Forest Preserve lands. Instead of paying full local property taxes to Adirondack towns, counties and schools (about $70 million a year), the state would make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes subject to a maximum annual increase of 2 percent.

Council Executive Director William Janeway also asked the governor to approve expansion of the Adirondack wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds, to fund the Adirondack Diversity Initiative and to fund the protection and management of popular wilderness areas.

“The Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency need additional staff to handle the public land stewardship challenges posed by big increases in the number of park visitors, especially in popular wilderness areas,” Janeway said. “There is a need for funding for circuit riders, education outreach to support measures that can help Adirondack communities cope with rapid climate change.”