Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2022 Executive Budget increases spending for the Department of Environmental Protection by $168 million — or 11% — bringing the department’s budget from $1.5 billion last year to $1.7 billion in the coming year.
Much of this spending increase is allocated for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
The budget plans for $75 million to be spent on DEC capital projects to address a variety of improvements. These include increasing access to state lands, rehabilitating campgrounds, and upgrading recreational facilities. Funding will also go toward infrastructure work on dams, wetland restoration, state lands and fish hatcheries.
Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan said this is “welcome news” but that more money toward environmental preservation and improvement is always appreciated.
“That would be a good start; certainly the need is much greater than that,” Sheehan said.
The briefing book praised the work of DEC staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, including emergency management staff, forest rangers and environmental conservation police officers.
“To date, more than 1,000 staff have volunteered to help combat the pandemic,” the book says. “DEC staff stood up and operated testing sites, delivered food, PPE, and test kits, supported Department of Health and Labor call centers, and are now standing up vaccination sites across the state.”
The budget shows a $1 million — 20% — increase in spending for the Adirondack Park Agency, bringing its annual budget from $5 million last year to $6 million in the coming year. It is not yet clear what that addition is for.
The Executive Budget also includes another round of Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding, providing $100 million for 10 communities through a competitive Regional Economic Development Council-run process.
There are also $750 million in REDC economic development grants.
“We and other economic development organizations in the North Country have opportunities to pursue and prospects who have been on hold but are now ready to resume plans,” Douglas wrote. “This commitment by the Governor will be helpful immediately as an indicator of assistance that will be able to be pursued this year.”