Lake George, NY, Apr 20, 2010 — TEXT ONLY AP - As a young lawyer, Pete Grannis helped organize the first Earth Day celebration in New York City - just a few months before he was hired to put teeth into enforcement at a new environmental agency created by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
Later, after 30 years in the state Assembly, Grannis rejoined the Department of Environmental Conservation as commissioner in 2007. This week, he's traveling around the state in an electric car, visiting the sites of environmental success stories to mark the 40th anniversary of both Earth Day and the DEC.
Grannis says the DEC has made great strides over the past four decades, but is now hobbled by the state's fiscal crisis - the DEC budget has been cut $32 million dollars and the staff reduced by 400 in the past 18 months.
Grannis was in Lake George yesterday to give the good news about the Adirondacks. Since the first Earth Day, he said, acid rain levels in the Adirondacks have fallen and species such as moose and bald eagles have returned. The DEC commissioner said a recent analysis found that acid rain levels dropped in all 48 Adirondack lakes that are monitored on a long-term basis. And he said wildlife such as moose, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and ospreys have re-established themselves in the North Country, and beaver and otter populations are flourishing.