The Business Council of New York State opposes S.2051 / A.6601 as the legislation oversimplifies humans' relationship with their natural surroundings. The legislation would allow any local government to adopt a local law or ordinance requiring a property owner to plant up to three trees in replacement of each tree removed from the property owner's property.
In New York State local governments are provided significant power to influence, encourage, and ultimately control land use decisions, but there is no reason to justify providing local government with such a proscriptive land use measure. Although, this legislation if enacted would require municipalities to adopt such a local law or ordinance the advancement of this legislation could further the belief that the advancement of such a local law or ordinance could be warranted.
If such a local law was enacted, municipalities would struggle with enforcement of an impractical local law. As a simple example: the legislation assumes all trees are equal; saplings are treated equal to a 117 foot Black Ash.
The sponsor of the legislation fails to recognize that New York is one of the most heavily forested states in the Northeast. Nearly 63% of the State, about 18.9 million acres, is now forest land. New York has more forest lands now then at the end of the 19th century. At that time forested land had shrunk to less than 25% primarily. Today New York has more forest than it has had in the past 150 years.
New York's forests are important economic resources -- according to Cornell University, the forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and directly contributes some $4.6 billion to the state's economy each year. New York should continue to advance policies that allow for the sustainable expansion of our forest, not simple solutions to complex issues.
For these reasons the Business Council recommends against approval of S.2051 / A.6601.