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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Governor proposes land moratorium

In his proposed 2010-11 budget, Governor David Paterson has recommended a moratorium on land acquisition and closure of the Adirondack Park Agency’s two Visitor Interpretive Centers.

“This is an all-out attack on the environment by the governor. This threatens to destroy the Environmental Protection Fund,” said John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.

The EPF is used to pay for a variety of environmental initiatives, including land acquisition and preservation. The fund was allocated $255 million in the last fiscal year and $212 million in the current year. Paterson proposes cutting it to $143 million.

The Executive Budget Briefing Book states: “Recommendations include a moratorium on forest preserve and open space land acquisition.”

The big question is what this will mean for the Finch, Pruyn lands acquired in 2007 by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy. Paul Hartman, a lobbyist for the conservancy, said the organzation  hoped to begin selling some of the 161,000 acres to the state in the next fiscal year, which begins April 1. Hartman said it’s now unclear whether that will happen.

Paterson wants to close the APA’s Visitor Interpretive Centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb. The VICs house exhibits on the Park’s natural  history and offer trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The number of funded positions at the APA would be reduced from sixty-nine to fifty-nine, according to Sheehan.

Sheehan said fifty-four positions would be cut at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which  now employs 3,314. If the budget passes, he added, “the average forester will covering three hundred thousand acres–alone.”

Sheehan said the council and other groups will lobby state legislators to restore funding for land and the environment.

Paterson also plans to shut down two state prisons in the Adirondacks in 2011: the Moriah Shock Facility in Essex County and  Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility in Clinton County.

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

5 Responses

  1. George Nagle says:

    If there is to be a moritorium on land purchase it ought not to apply to lands already acquired by the Conservancy in reasonable expectation that the State will buy them for the Forest Preserve.

    As much as I would hate to see the two VICs closed at least that doesn’t threaten the APA’s administration of the APA Act, Rivers Act, and Wetlands Act.

  2. catharus says:

    VICs are essential to educating the public on what’s best about the Adirondacks; to close them would be to hinder the best industry the Adirondacks have — tourism and outdoor recreation!

  3. adkinsight says:

    There is a reasonable way out of the box here that would allow for continued purchases of critical Adirondack lands. NYS has largely funded the purchase of lands inside the blueline since it’s inception. This park has not only state but national significance. Why can’t New Yorkers expect the Feds. to assist in the protection of this treasure. If private donations are worked into the funding mix, we can continue to add appropriate lands even in the face of this economic disaster.

  4. Diogenes says:

    The cozy relationship between the ANC and the state should be exposed for what it is – illegal. There IS no requirement for the State to purchase ANC acquired lands and to intimate that there is – is just an admission of the improper relationship that has developed between the ANC and the APA and thus the State. Let the ANC try to manage that debt it rolled up in those lands for 10 years or so and maybe even they will begin to see the value in selected development.

  5. laser tonsillectomy Idaho says:

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