Protect cheers Landmark Aquatic Invasive Species bill that was passed and new term for APA Commissioner Dick Booth, and helped to block Utility Task Vehicles expansion bill

On June 20, 2014, the NYS 2014 Legislative Session ended. PROTECT worked hard to help pass a historic aquatic invasive species bill.

Landmark Aquatic Invasive Species Control Legislation Approved

Protect the Adirondacks worked to pass landmark statewide aquatic invasive species (AIS) control legislation. This legislation aims to prevent the spread AIS by requiring the removal of visible vegetation and animals from boats and related gear, as well as draining areas of the watercraft of all water, when entering and leaving boat launch sites across New York.

A broad coalition supported this legislation including the region’s and state’s leading environmental groups, Trout Unlimited, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, and many lake associations support passage of legislation. This legislation was sponsored by Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca) in the Assembly and Senator Thomas O’Mara (R- Chemung County) and will help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) throughout New York. Read a joint letter of diverse partners that organized to support this effort.

“Passage of this legislation will help to focus on prevention and interdiction of aquatic invasive species. This puts New York on track to be proactive to prevent the spread of invasive species rather than simply reactive to try and control new infestations of lakes and ponds,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Potentially Highly Damaging UTV Bill Rejected

Protect the Adirondacks opposed legislation to redefine “all terrain vehicles” to allow use of much heavier, larger, and more environmentally destructive motorized vehicles. This legislation will result in even bigger machines, called Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs), to be used in off-road, wild and natural areas, which will cause extensive environmental damage. This legislation would allow ATVs to be increased in weight from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds and provides a more expansive definition to allow the wider and longer type and design of the vehicles that may be used for the same purposes as current smaller ATVs.

“PROTECT is heartened that the UTV bill was rejected in the Assembly. Passage of this bill would lead to significantly higher rates of environmental destruction and harm to wild areas across New York by all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and UTVs. Currently, ATV riding is poorly regulated and enforced. Trespassing and illegal operation on roads is widespread throughout Long Island and Upstate New York,” said Peter Bauer.

ATVs have been 1- or 2-passenger vehicles. The new type of larger ATV that would be authorized in this legislation is a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) that can seat 4 people along with a gear compartment. It is much heavier, wider and longer than a standard ATV. As such, the ability to cause damage is greater. One flaw of this bill is that it places no limits on where these motor vehicles can be operated.

Read a joint statement that opposed this legislation.

PROTECT believes that ATV riding is an intensive, and often environmentally abusive recreational activity, that should be relegated to private parks, such as the sport of motocross racing, and on industrial forestlands where the state has purchased conservation easements, which have an adequate maintained road network.

APA’s Lone Green Commissioner Approved for New Term

Cornell University law professor Dick Booth was also confirmed for a new term as a Commissioner of the Adirondack Park Agency.

“Dick Booth has earned a reputation for his deep thinking and independence on the Adirondack Park Agency Board. These qualities are in short supply at the APA and we’re pleased to see Dick Booth reappointed” said Peter Bauer.