In the past few months, the city of Rochester, the state of New York, and The Nature Conservancy have been working towards the successful transfer of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes and the surrounding shorelines into state hands. These are the last two undeveloped lakes in the entire Finger Lakes region. The surrounding land, totaling nearly 8000 acres, is home to deer, turkey, grouse, red and grey fox, black bear, and even nesting bald eagles. In addition, one shore of Hemlock Lake contains at least 400 acres of old-growth forest, with some trees believed to be over 400 years old. Old-growth forests in this region are extremely rare, representing approximately .4% of all forest cover in the Northeast. Once in the hands of the state, the land would likely be protected, becoming a park or nature preserve managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. However, the transfer of the land has recently been put in jeopardy by state budget woes. Among other proposals, Governor Paterson has proposed slashing the budget for the NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by 30%. Part of the EPF's funding includes land acquisition. Therefore, the successful transfer and protection of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes requires adequate funding for the EPF. The city of Rochester, who currently owns the land surrounding Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, has assessed the property's development value in the past, including its value to loggers and developers. While a decrease in funding would not automatically mean that the lakeshores would fall to development, there is still a sense of urgency to the issue. Talks among involved parties, which have been going on prior to recent budget issues, are too close to succeeding to allow a potentially short-term budget crisis to jeopardize the long-term health of Hemlock and Canadice lakes. In addition, the state fiscal year ends the 31st of this month (March). If the EPF funding is slashed, then Hemlock and Canadice Lakes may have to wait another year - or longer - to be protected. We demand that the state uphold full funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), so that the state has the means to acquire and protect Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. Funding of the EPF, specifically the part that pertains to land acquisition, is crucial to the purchase and continued protection of these two watersheds. These lakes and surrounding shorelines are invaluable - yet fragile - environmental resources that should be forever preserved for future generations. Both Hemlock and Canadice Lakes are the true definition of unspoiled wilderness, something that is increasingly rare in the Finger Lakes. Reducing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund could leave the door upon to future development and logging around these lakes, resulting in the loss of something that we could never get back - old-growth forest, undeveloped Finger Lakes, and their associated habitats and ecosystems. Please urge government to fund fully the Environmental Protection Fund - not only for the preservation of these last two undeveloped Finger Lakes, but for the greater environmental health of New York State. Financial woes should never compromise the integrity and protection of this state's environmental resources. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ATTENTION: In addition to any comments you may have, please put your hometown in the comments section. Show your legislators where you're from.