March 1, 2008
Environmental Protection Fund Being Raided for Budget Relief
ADK needs your help in urging the Assembly and Senate to:
- Reject the $125 million EPF sweep this year and any future sweeps.
- Increase land acquisition funding in the EPF to $100 million.
- Restore the EPF land stewardship category to $22 million.
We expect the state budget to be adopted by April 1, so please write to your legislators as soon as possible. (Letters to the editor in your local newspaper would help as well.)
Contact information for your state legislators:
We are at a critical juncture in the history of open-space protection in New York State. Right now, we have a unique opportunity to protect tens thousands of acres of wild lands in the Adirondacks and across the state, but a proposed raid on the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is jeopardizing that opportunity.
In his 2008-09 Executive Budget, Governor Spitzer proposed sweeping $125 million of unspent EPF funds into the General Fund for non-environmental purposes. The Governor also proposed additional sweeps totaling $75 million over the next three years. That would bring the total amount “borrowed” from the EPF to more than half a billion dollars – and not a penny has been paid back to the fund.
When lawmakers created the EPF in 1993, they intended it to be a locked box, ensuring that the state has the money for critical environmental projects even during economic downturns. It was not meant to be a slush fund.
Over the next two years, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are expected to need $300 million for land acquisition projects. Last week, DEC and The Nature Conservancy reached an agreement to protect the former Finch, Pruyn lands. (Read ADK’s press release on the deal at www.adk.org.) Other pending projects include the Lassiter and Clerical Medical tracts in the Adirondacks; the Big Indian Plateau tract in the Catskills; Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, the last of the undeveloped Finger Lakes; and the AVR project on Long Island.
Because of these pending projects, ADK supports an increase in the current EPF from $250 million to $300 million. The proposed budget would increase the land acquisition category by $11 million to $66 million, but we are requesting that category be increased to $100 million for the coming fiscal year.
ADK is also concerned about the proposed reduction of the land stewardship category from $22 million to $5 million, a 78 percent cut. This category funds ADK’s professional trail crews, the Summit Steward program and other important initiatives for building and maintaining backcountry trails. While ADK applauds the Governor’s proposal to provide $100 million for New York’s 350,000-acre state park system, we also recognize that DEC needs sufficient funding to properly maintain the 4.5 million acres it manages.
Mar 1, 2008: Environmental Protection Fund Being Raided