- Do you support increased DEC Lands and Forest Division expenditure for necessary Catskill Park management and planning, including:
- Increasing the number of Forest Rangers and continuing Forest Ranger academies to replace rangers lost to retirements, transfers and attrition?
- Increasing Assistant Forest Rangers for backcountry safety and 'Leave No Trace' education?
The DEC has undergone deep cuts over lean years, but hasn't seen the subsequent growth other agencies have during economic rebounds. It has become difficult even to manage contracts for outside groups to do the vital work of resource protection, campground maintenance, and other activities while simultaneously promoting Park recreation, tourism, and development. The Environmental Protection Fund land stewardship category can fund additional Assistant Forest Rangers who are contractual, seasonal employees (see next question).
- Will you support the $300 million base Environmental Protection Fund figure with no new programs added unless the funding is provided to pay for these programs? The EPF generates much more revenue than this expenditure:
The EPF is financed primarily through New York's real estate transfer tax, and for every dollar spent, New York receives seven dollars in returned investment, because the EPF contributes to economic development and generates thousands of jobs. The EPF should contain an appropriation of at least $45 million for land acquisition, including a set-aside appropriation for the Catskill High Peaks and $30 million for the land stewardship category. The EPF preserves public lands and forests, enables acquisition of more public land, revitalizes waterfronts, conserves farmland, enhances water quality, supports recycling, and helps fund summit stewards and trail creation. EPF's land stewardship monies also fund invasive species programs (see next question); especially important is at least $2.5 million for beetle and white fly propagation & release by Cornell Universityóbiocontrols to eradicate the hemlock woolly adelgid in the Catskills. Cornell's research lab has received $1m+ from NY State to get started and needs continued funding.
- Will you support full funding for the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) 2018-2022 Strategic Plan:
Controlling invasive species includes maximum funding requested by scientists to develop biological controls to protect hemlock trees from Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Recent studies show that a mix of controls proves best; investigation is ongoing.
- Early Detection/Rapid Response projects
- Surveys and monitoring for high priority species
- Develop structured Citizen Science program that engages and retains participants
- Improve understanding and raise public awareness of high priority and low abundance invasive species in the region
- Improve the scientific understanding of the extent, ecological impact and effective controls of invasive species in the CRISP region.
Hemlock trees are under attack in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. In addition to preserving these forests, hemlock root systems are essential to preserve soils and to prevent erosion that would impair pristine Catskill water quality necessary for millions of people. Hemlocks also provide necessary shade to cool waters for sustaining trout fishing, a major Catskill attraction.
CRISP Programs cover all of Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie Counties, most of Greene, Ulster, and Sullivan Counties, and part of Orange County. Outdoor recreational activities attract over 2.5 million visitors annually to the Catskills, contributing $115 million to the economy (2012 study). Tourism has increased notably since.
- Do you favor using the Catskill Forest Preserve as a model for a low-carbon future with high-efficiency buildings using renewable energy for electricity and heating, and a 'green fleet' for everyone in the DEC? Electric Vehicle Charging Stations will need to be installed at all parking sites that can accommodate them (i.e., sites with adequate electric wiring). A land bank1 recently approved by voters will be established for such purposes.