The ongoing efforts to “re-invent” conservation priorities within the Department of Environmental Conservation will no doubt prove to be an uphill battle due to the huge deficit New York is facing. As reported last week, the decline in conservation quality and services negatively impacts all stakeholders, regardless of their interests or need to purchase a yearly license.
I suspect the State will use the deficit to continue shearing conservation programs across the board and also as a crutch to implement higher license fees for next year. Already DEC has said it will need to close several state camping facilities due to the red ink. The biggest issue is how valuable are the state’s natural resources as they relate to generating income, whether for the Conservation Fund or the General Fund? Certainly reductions in these programs will take their toll on tourism and the many NY businesses that depend on them for survival. Accepted estimates of what the state’s natural resources activities generate in cold hard cash is roughly $60B annually, and in some areas represents their biggest business income each year.
During a February 11 stakeholders meeting with DEC in Albany, Commissioner Grannis was asked about funding as it related to how much income it generated for the state. His answer was, “All areas in government are being cut despite what (money) they create.” Yikes! Wouldn’t I love having this man run a business for me – let’s cut the ones that are making us money. Boy, does that ever make a lot of business sense.