Bill Would Restore Hunting on Lands Held in Trust by SUNY ESF

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
In the fall of 2013, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) announced that it would ban hunting with firearms on 5,300 acres of its property in the Adirondacks.

The ban was a result of the ill-conceived SAFE Act that was enacted earlier that same year.

I am pleased to report that an amendment recently passed both the Assembly and the Senate that enables the college to restore hunting on this property.

It is my hope that this bill is signed by the Governor so the time-honored tradition of hunting will be restored on the land to attract people to the area and keep the wildlife populations in check.

Setting aside the infringements the SAFE Act has on our 2nd Amendment rights, its rushed implementation also had unintended consequences.

In this case, it created felony penalties for possessing a rifle, shotgun, or firearm in or upon a building or grounds used for educational purposes.

While the law provided an exemption for land owned by SUNY ESF, it did not contain an exemption for property that is held in trust for SUNY ESF which includes 5,300 acres in the Adirondacks.

Without mention of “land held in trust,” under the law an individual who possesses a firearm on these premises in the Adirondacks could be charged with a Class E Felony.

As a result, SUNY ESF made the decision to ban hunting on its Adirondack properties to prevent hunters from being charged with a felony.

This legislation makes the technical changes in existing law to once again open up these areas for hunting.

This isn’t the only example of unintended consequences the rushed process created when the Governor used a message of necessity and bypassed the three-day waiting period to get the SAFE Act passed.

Shortly after the act passed, the legislature had to go back and fix the law because it could have made criminals out of active duty police officers possessing weapons on school grounds.

Other proposed amendments, like the SUNY ESF amendment, have been left to linger.

I am urging the Governor to quickly sign this legislation so hunting can be restored in time for the fall.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.