The Grannis firing indicative of Albanyís DEC priorities

As many of you know from reading my columns, Iíve never been a fan of the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and that opinion dates back to 1972, when it was spawned to replace the NYS Conservation Dept. Although Iíve voiced my reasons in past columns, what occurred last week, with the firing of its commissioner, Pete Grannis, typified one of my primary reasons.

Grannis, a NYC Democrat, was appointed to run DEC by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007. Prior to that, Grannis served as a member of the Assembly representing the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island for more than 30 years. He also served in the early 1970s as a Compliance Counsel for DEC. Grannis wasnít Spitzerís first choice for the DECís top position and also came under fire by the stateís sportsmen groups, who felt his urban background didnít qualify him for the position.

However, once Grannis took over, his efforts to support conservation programs and projects, as well as environmental ones, gradually began winning over his detractors. Under Grannis, the pheasant program was salvaged, the minimum age for youths to hunt big game was lowered, and a new NYS salt water fishing license was created (none existed before, unlike fresh water fishing). Despite his urban background, he seemed to take his position seriously and listened to what sportsmen and his fish and wildlife staff professionals suggested. He was also a three-time winner of the Legislator of the Year award from the Environmental Planning Lobby and was accorded similar honors by the Audubon Society, the Environmental Action Coalition and Environmental Advocates.

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