Environmental Conservation Officers Receiving Conservation Funds
Conservation Fund Advisory Board Correspondence
The following is a web version of a Conservation Fund Advisory Board correspondence letter from Conservation Fund Advisory Board Chairman, Jason Kemper to Commissioner Joe Martens on May 22. 2013. A printable PDF Version (46 KB) is also available to view.
At the May 13, 2013 meeting of the Conservation Fund Advisory Board it was mentioned during another presentation that the 32 Environmental Conservation Officers currently participating in the academy are being paid out of the Conservation Fund. You may recall that in December 2011, there was a shift of approximately 20 Environmental Conservation Officers to the Conservation Fund without any notification to the Conservation Fund Advisory Board. As a result of the discussions you and your staff had with CFAB after the move of ECO's in 2011, you stated that CFAB would be notified or at least updated in the future if any additional staff would be shifted onto the fund.
On the evening of May 13, 2013 I sent yourself, Executive Deputy Commissioner Marc Gerstman, and Deputy Commissioner of Natural Resources Kathy Moser an email outlining my concerns with this shift of staff onto the Conservation Fund as well as asking for confirmation that the ECO's were indeed placed on the Conservation Fund. In addition, on May 16, 2013 I requested that the Division of Management and Budget provide me some additional information in regards to staffing in the Division of Fish Wildlife and Marine Resources. To date I have not received a response to the email I sent you or the information I requested from the Division of Management and Budget. Therefore I am making a formal request for the following information.
- Total ECO's on the Conservation Fund going back to 2003 (this information was provided at an earlier date)
- Total Staffing of ECO's for the same time period as the request above
- Total Staffing in the DFWMR for the same time period.
- Staffing in the DFWMR on the Conservation Fund (broken out by accounts) for same time period
- Total DEC Staffing on the Conservation Fund for the same period
- Is any of the cost of the ECO Academy being paid out of the Conservation Fund
- When was the decision made to place the additional ECO's on the Conservation Fund
The May 2013 cash balance in the Conservation Fund was over $37,000,000.00, yet since the license fee increase there are over 50 less staff in the DFWMR and well over 100 more DEC staff being charged to the Conservation Fund. CFAB regional representatives have reported that numerous fish and wildlife activities are not being completed as they have been in previous years including but not limited to: warm and cold water fisheries sampling and monitoring, pond reclamations, operation of hunting co-ops, furbearer pelt sealing - except at larger events, bear and deer harvest checking, wild egg takes for hatchery production, and fish hatchery production to name a few.
Although not under this administration, the Sportsmen paid for a license fee increase in order to keep DEC's fish and wildlife programs status quo, that has clearly not been the case. The Conservation Fund Advisory Board fully supports the efforts made by the ECO's on behalf of the sporting community and believes the Conservation Fund should be responsible for a portion of those costs. At the same time there are critical vacancies within the Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources that need to be filled immediately to restore DEC's fish and wildlife program, maintain what license buyers perceive as a commitment from New York State, and effectively manage New York's fish and wildlife resources.
The CFAB is becoming increasingly concerned that the Conservation Fund will increasingly bear a larger portion of the costs of DEC's reduced fish and wildlife program. I and CFAB members look forward to reviewing the information you provide to us at your earliest convenience.