North Counrty Assembly Members To Pressure Cuomo & the DOB Re Misuse of Conservation Fund
Recently, Assembly members Tony Jordan (R,C,I-Jackson), Teresa Sayward (R,I-Willsboro), and Janet L. Duprey (R,I-Peru) sent a joint letter to Governor Cuomo requesting a meeting with him to discuss the mishandling of dedicated state conservation funds generated by hunting, fishing and trapping licensing fees. With across-the-board cuts to all state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the lawmakers want to ensure that conservation funds are used to support outdoor recreation programs and opportunities. The Assembly members, who represent many sportsmen and whose districts are covered largely by the Adirondack Park, are especially concerned and would like Governor Cuomo to clear up any rumors of a possible Conservation Fund sweep. 

“Hunting and fishing are especially important to New York residents and our Upstate economy, and that is why we want to talk to the governor to make sure that the state is using the Conservation Fund as intended, to support New York’s outdoors recreation and opportunities,” said Jordan. “When we’re being told by the chairman of the Conservation Fund Advisory Board that the money, raised by outdoor licensing fees, is not being used as required by law, it raises a red flag with me. We need to use this dedicated fund to support this important industry and boost our local economies.”

            There are 1.4 million sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts in New York who have a $6 billion annual impact of the state’s economy. Recent hikes in licensing fees have made it more expensive for hunters and anglers to do what they love. The use of conservation funds to maintain programs, trails and other related services has been repeatedly denied by the Division of Budget.         

            "Our sportsmen and women are concerned that the Conservation Fund may be swept for other uses,” said Sayward. “The Conservation Fund should remain as intended, providing support for outdoor recreation and sporting opportunities. I urge Governor Cuomo to act on this issue to ensure that the Conservation Fund is used for its proper purpose." 

            “It’s extremely important for the economic vitality, culture, as well as the values of North Country sportsmen and women to protect our region’s heritage and traditions,” said Duprey. “The failure to properly utilize the Conservation Fund, combined with recent reductions at the DEC will directly affect the programs and services that hunters, fishermen, and trappers are paying for through their licensing fees. This is unacceptable. With the large number of sportsmen and women in our state contributing billions to the economy annually, they should not be the target of mismanagement and unfair reductions. I strongly urge the Governor to use the Conservation Fund for its sole purpose – to support hunters and outdoor enthusiasts in the North Country across our great state.”         

            The Assembly colleagues urge Governor Cuomo to meet with them to preserve this important part of Upstate culture. As always, constituents can contact their legislative representatives by calling Assemblyman Jordan at 518-747-7098, Assemblywoman Sayward at 518-792-4546, or Assemblywoman Duprey at 518-562-1986.

Steve Aldstadt's Speech @ Sportsmen's Awareness Day in Albany

NY Bill calls for $15 for each initial gun registration and $10 per year renewal fee for each gun owned.

Some Interesting Info Regarding Rogers Center’s Proposed Closing

                According to Dan Platt of the Conservation Fund Advisory Council (CFAC), the proposed closing of Rogers Center in Sherburne will actually do little to reduce the state budget deficit.

                “The hearing (in Albany) on Thursday was fascinating.  It lasted at least 10 hours.  Our temporary (DEC) commissioner, Peter Iwanowicz, a Democrat from Albany and Deputy Secretary for the Environment, appointed by Gov. Paterson was grilled for about 2.5 hours.  Grannis (former DEC commissioner who was fired by Gov. Paterson for criticizing the DOB cuts as they pertained to the DEC)) was interviewed next.   

Upshot is:

                75 percent of DEC budget comes from other sources of funding distinct from the General Fund.  Only 2 percent of the State General Fund employees work at DEC, but DEC is being hit by 16 percent of the state's layoffs.  Grannis had decided to spread the hits across all DEC sections regardless of funding source, because hitting the 25 percent group would have been like cutting off a leg - couldn't work at all.

There are no plans to close hatcheries OR the Reynold's farm.  That doesn't mention the fact that the managers at both hatcheries took early retirement.  MOST senior management took early retirement.  Of the 50+ employees who took early retirement (I believe from FWMR), only 3 were General Fund employees, so the early retirement saved the state very little.  Many of the layoffs will not save NYS anything either.  Many of the layoffs will limit DEC's ability to apply for or qualify for Federal Funds that have been paying for a lot of the non-General Fund employees.  They have also decided to transfer a large number of permanent positions to "seasonal" status, which likely implies that a lot of the normal seasonals will be fired.  The idea was to keep a lot of the permanent employees employed, even though they don't have all the perks of full-time employment... with the hope that sometime in the next administration they will clean up the mess.  Stoneykill Education Center in my region is also subject to closing.  I do not believe any of the camps are closing.... yet.

                $17M of the Conservation Fund has not been released by the Division  of Budget (DOB).  Actually, while a lot of other funds of the state specifically empower DOB to allocate funds appropriated by legislation, DOB has no such power under the New York State Finance Law to fail to allocate those funds.  However, that is exactly what they have done.

                CFAB has been trying very hard to get some traction to get these funds released.  They have tried to enlist (Assemblyman Robert) Sweeney's help, who appeared to be very interested in what is happening.”

                So it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Gov. Paterson and the Division of Budget have decided to make the NYSDEC the “whipping boy” or fall guy (your choice) for our state’s $315M budget deficit –a red ink crisis created by none other than our elected officials and state leaders’ long term inability to operate the state in a fiscally responsible manner. In addition to losing DEC centers such as Rogers and Stoneykill, sportsmen will see significant reductions in fish and wildlife conservation programs such as fish stocking and habitat management. My primary question is: why aren’t our local state politicians battling to reverse and cease what seems to be efforts to literally destroy our DEC system as it relates to conservation and our “dedicated” Conservation Fund money?

    Also noteworthy is that governor-elect Cuomo has hinted that he might move the entire DEC under the Dept .of Parks & Recreation bureucratic umbrella.

If approved, the cost of a Conservation Legacy license will increase from $76 to $96; Super Sportsman, $68 - $88; Sportsman, $37-$47; Senior Sportsman, $5- $10; Small/Big Game, $19-$29. Fishing, $19-$29; Senior Fishing $5 (no change); Fishing (blind) $0-$5 (qualifies for federal revenues); DMP $5 with sportsman application fee, $10 without; Military/ Disabled $5. Bowhunting, $16-$21; Junior Bowhunting $9; Senior Bowhunting, $0; Muzzleloader, $16- $21; Senior Muzzleloader, $0; Small Game, $16-$26; Junior Small Game, $5; Turkey permit $5-$10; Trapping, $16-$21; Senior Trapping, $0-$5, Junior Trapping $6; Seven-day fishing, $12-$15.
Lifetime licenses and non-resident sporting licenses will also be going up, including a $25 one-day non-resident fishing license, which many charter captains and fishing guides feel will discourage a lot of potential out-of-state customers. More>
It's Official - Two DEC Ed Centers To Be Closed
President Announces Nomination of New USFWS Director
Monster Musky Caught in the St. Lawrence
The Budget Axe Falls on Rogers DEC Education Ctr
(       Layoffs will reduce NYSDEC staff to the lowest levels since the 1980s)

Latest & Probably Best Book On The Mohawk Valley Ever Published

The final book of M. Paul Keesler, "Mohawk: Discovering the Valley of the Crystals" is now available from North Country Books. More >

Paterson Reverses Decision on Pheasant Farm Closing

Harold Palmer, NYS Conservation Council president, has reported that he received a call from DEC  Commissioner Grannis. Grannis told Palmer that Governor Paterson had gotten the sportsmen of NY's message (loud & clear) and the pheasant farm will not be closed, and the birds will remain. Commissioner Grannis asked that Palmer and the Council work with the department on funding for all programs.
More >