The Adirondack Council is applauding the budget passed by Governor Kathy Hochul and Legislative leaders for its positive impact on the Adirondacks’ waters, wilderness, education and community development.
“There is a lot for the Adirondacks to be happy about in this budget,” said Adirondack Council Acting Executive Director Raul J. Aguirre. “It will help to protect wilderness and water, while also providing significant state funding for municipal water and wastewater projects in Adirondack towns. We thank Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for their support, as well as Environmental Conservation Committee Chairs Deborah Glick in the Assembly and Pete Harckham in the Senate.
“We can also clearly see the influence of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus on this plan,” Aguirre said. “We are especially thankful for the Caucus’s work to support science, clean air and clean water with the lake survey, plus open space and diversity. The Caucus really put its influence behind Adirondack projects in this budget.”
Adirondack budget highlights include:
Lake Survey – A dedicated fund of $2 million (up from $500,000 in FY 2022-2023) for a Survey of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems, a multi-year comprehensive survey of environmental conditions in hundreds of Adirondack lakes to report on the impacts of acid rain and climate change. The invaluable data collected in these reports will assist the US Environmental Protection Agency, Congress and federal courts in protecting the Adirondacks and disadvantaged communities from air pollution.
Clean Water Grants to Communities – An additional $500 million was added to the state’s funding pool for water and wastewater grants to communities. The grants provide enhanced funding to small rural communities that would otherwise not be able to afford mandatory clean-up of discharges into rivers and lakes. The Adirondack Council has assisted Park communities that are interested in applying for this funding. So far, Adirondack towns have received more than $80 million in state funding, lifting a huge burden from local property taxpayers, while decreasing water pollution significantly.
Open Space — $38.9 million (down $1.1 million from 2023) for new public lands and waters statewide.
Timbuctoo Climate Institute — $2.1 million for the Timbuctoo Summer Careers and Climate Institute a summer education program linking students in New York City to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Campus in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park. The program will provide opportunities for students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds to learn about rewarding environmental careers not generally available at urban campuses. Supporters hope it will create a new jobs pipeline to good careers for Black and Latino students, while providing the Adirondack Park with a larger, more diverse pool of talented young people. Students will explore careers in climate and ecological sciences, planning, visitor management and environmental advocacy, among others. The first cohort of students is set to kick off this summer.
Visitor Safety/Overuse — $8 million (same as 2023) to develop a new set of management tools designed to keep Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve healthy while they remain popular with visitors. VUMFs help officials assess the need to build, redesign or rebuild trails, reroute traffic and to create and maintain facilities such as restrooms, lean-tos, campsites, parking, interpretive centers, and information kiosks.
Diversity Initiative – the state’s Adirondack Diversity Initiative received an increase of $120,000 to a new level of $420,000. The program enters its fourth year with a mission to help communities, businesses and government agencies be more welcoming to all visitors and park residents.
Mountain Club Visitor Center – the budget grants $100,000 to the Adirondack Mountain Club for a new High Peaks Information Center.
Rail Trail Parking/Welcome Center – a new appropriation of $300,000 for the Village of Lake Placid, at the start of the new rail/trail to Tupper Lake. The funds will help promote tourism.
The Adirondack Council advocates for the appropriation and spending of public funds for specific environmental purposes and programs. However, the Adirondack Council doesn’t solicit or accept government funding or taxpayer-supported donations of any kind.
Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.
The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States.