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This Month in ADK History: Fighting for the EPF

This Month in ADK History: Fighting for the EPF

February 14, 2022

By Henry Liebers, Johns Brook Property Coordinator

One of ADK’s cornerstone operations over the last century has been its advocacy on behalf of New York’s public lands and waters. Many famous cases have stemmed from this action, including blocked dam projects in the Moose River Plains, the protection of Lows Lake as motor-free wilderness, and more. 

Of these advocacy issues, one stands out as a consistent focus for the organization: the Environmental Protection Fund. Back in 1993, ADK joined a coalition of 115 organizations calling on then-Governor Mario Cuomo to create a trust fund dedicated solely to environmental causes. Neil Woodworth, legal counsel for ADK at the time, commented on it in the 1993 July/August edition of Adirondac magazine: 

As this issue of Adirondac goes to press, ADK and a broad coalition of recreational, sportsmen’s, conservation, civic, labor, religious, and government organizations are calling on the governor and the legislature to work together to enact a dedicated fund for environmental purposes, including land purchases, in 1993. 

The result of this broad coalition’s recommendations was the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The 1994-’95 fiscal year saw $31 million ear-marked for land stewardship, historic preservation, habitat restoration, combatting invasive species, clean drinking water, and other essential causes. 

From that humble beginning in 1994, the EPF has since provided upwards of $2.7 billion in funding for environmental projects. The value of the EPF to New York is not just in preserving our natural resources, though. The EPF also supports for 350,000 jobs created across the state, in areas of construction, agriculture, tourism, and waste management. A recent study by The Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 invested through the EPF, there is a return of $7 to the State of New York. 

Twenty-nine years later, the EPF remains a crucial focus of ADK’s advocacy efforts. Just recently, ADK joined another coalition pushing for a $500 million EPF. Folded into this request was increased funding for the Forest Preserve. In response, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed a $400 million EPF in her 2022 executive budget proposal. Should this pass the budget process, it would be a record-high amount and a huge step towards the coalition’s ultimate goal. ADK is currently organizing advocates to urge their legislators to maintain this funding in the final budget. 

Having been there at the formation of the EPF, ADK continues to support the appropriation of funds geared toward protecting New York’s precious natural resources. As budget negotiations open each year in February, ADK is there pushing for a stronger EPF and more funding for New York’s public lands and waters.


This article is part of a series celebrating ADK’s Centennial anniversary. Head to our Centennial Celebration page to learn more about how you can get involved

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