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Cuomo nominates Martens to head DEC

The chairman of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority's board of directors and president of the Open Space Institute is in-line to become the next commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Joe Martens has been a key figure in some of the state's most significant Adirondack Park land acquisitions. He has led the Open Space Institute for more than a decade.

Martens will take over for acting Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz, who was appointed by former Governor David Paterson late last year.

Paterson fired Pete Grannis in October for a leaked memo blasting the governor's plans to layoff some 200 DEC employees. Just this week, Grannis was named to a high profile post at the state Comptroller's Office.

This will be the second time Martens has worked for a Cuomo, having served at deputy secretary for energy and the environment under Governor Mario Cuomo.

In a prepared statement, Governor Cuomo said Martens has a strong background in fighting to protect the environment, noting that as commissioner Martens will bring - quote - "the highest level of stewardship" to the state's natural resources.

Reaction to Cuomo's pick has been largely positive so far. In an email sent to WNBZ Tuesday afternoon, state Senator Betty Little said Martens is a - quote - "very good choice to lead" the DEC.

Little expects his nomination to move swiftly through the Senate. She also notes that Martens is well-known in the Adirondack region.

"Given the state's fiscal crisis and the need to foster economic activity both here in the Adirondacks and statewide, I am pleased Governor Cuomo has selected someone who will not only be an effective environmental steward but work hard to strike an appropriate balance on the economic side," Little said.

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward says Martens understands the challenges faced by residents of the Adirondack Park.

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