New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has released his new 2014-15 state budget and it includes a boost in environmental spending for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Governor Cuomo has proposed to increase the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $172 million, a raise of $10 million over last year’s budget. The proposed EPF includes $25.5 million for open space protection. $18.5 million for State Land Stewardship and $4.7 million invasive species control. The modest increase in the EPF is important because Governor Cuomo has committed to purchase Boreas Ponds, the last section of the 69,000 acre Nature Conservancy-Finch Lands to be protected. The Boreas Ponds are scheduled to be purchased by the state in 2015-2016.
The main drawback in the Govenor’s plan is that he seeks to use funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) earmarked for climate change and alternative energy capacity for the monies to increase the EPF. It makes little sense to rob Peter to pay Paul. In this proposal, environmental monks are being robbed. The EPF is primarily funded by New York’s Real Estate Transfer Tax, which raises far above $500 million annually.
Invasive species control will rise by $1 million to help fund various efforts across the state. In the Adirondack Park, efforts are underway to build a Park-wide inspection and decontamination station network to interdict aquatic invasive species (AIS) and prevent new infestations. The key vector for spread AIS in the motorboats.
The EPF also funds Forest Preserve Stewardship. This includes funds for trailbuiling and maintenance, parking areas, signage, educational and interpretation materials. Forest Preserve stewardship has long been underfunded for building and maintaining the recreational infrastructure used by the public.