First, after years of advocacy in the New York State budget process, this year we won big for the Catskills. The NYS Legislature has passed a budget that includes a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, a $3 billion environmental bond act, and major new investments in the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve. Please take a minute to thank your legislative leaders and our local Catskills representatives for supporting our beloved park and wildlands. And check out this great WAMC piece about the win.
This would not have happened without Senator Michelle Hinchey’s hard work. She and her staff worked tirelessly for the past three months to ensure that the Catskills got its fair share. We extend her our deepest gratitude, and send thanks to Assemblymember Englebright, Assemblymember Gunther, and Senator Kaminsky, all of whom had a big hand in getting this funding across the finish line.
For a breakdown of the state investments, scroll down.
Additionally, our coalition had another big win when Premium Energy Holdings, a power company from Southern California proposing to create an enormous underground hydroelectric plant adjacent to the Ashokan Reservoir, announced that it withdrew the project proposal.
This is a major victory, and your swift and fierce action is what made it possible. Thousands of you submitted comments to FERC opposing the proposal, and your actions sent Premium Energy Holdings packing. Allison Dunne at WAMC covered this story too, and you can listen online.
Had the project moved forward, the company would have dug into valleys in either the Town of Olive or Shandaken and dammed streams to create new reservoirs as part of “pumped storage” for electricity to be generated using associated turbines and water transport tunnels.
Kathy Nolan, Mountainkeeper’s Senior Research Director, released this press statement earlier today:
Thanks to our wonderful community in the Catskills for speaking up clearly and forcefully to chase away this poorly conceived project! We must seek and advance truly sustainable approaches to our energy needs and realize what is at stake in areas preserved for their importance to water quality, recreation, natural habitats, and other "eco-system benefits." The New York City reservoirs are an important and sensitive engineering and ecological system. While we're thrilled that the sponsors are pulling out of the Ashokan proposal, we remain concerned and engaged around the potential for this type of project to pop up at another reservoir.
With thanks for all you do to protect our park and forest preserve,
Ramsay Adams, Executive Director
Catskills Funding in the 2021 Budget
A $300 million statewide Environmental Protection Fund, including:
- $500,000 for the Carey Institute to fight the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the Catskills;
- $1.5 million for visitor safety and wilderness protection in the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves; and
- $150,000 to help fund the Catskills Visitors Center in Mt. Tremper;
Additionally, Senator Hinchey mustered all of her resources to bring home substantial funding to support our park and region, including:
- $100,000 for a Catskill Park Stewards Program to be co-managed by Mountainkeeper and the Catskill Center;
- $100,000 to create and promote a craft beverages trail linking craft distilleries, wineries, breweries, and cideries in the Catskills region.