By Don LehmanContributing Writer
Northville, N.Y. – The chairman of the state Conservation Fund
Advisory Board (CFAB) announced his resignation March 16, saying
the inability of certain sportsmen’s groups to work together had
pushed him toward stepping down.
Robert Monacchio of Northville (Fulton County) had been the
Region 5 representative to the board for nine years, the last three
of which he spent as chairman. He said he believed Region 8
representative Charles Hancock would likely succeed him as
Monacchio, 70, said he stepped down to spend more time hunting
and fishing, activities he said he has had to forego the last few
years as chairman.
But he said the recent effort by sportsmen’s groups to unite,
and what he perceived as a lack of effort by the New York State
Conservation Council to work with other conservation groups, also
played a part in his decision.
‘There are over a million sportsmen in the state. If they could
have spoken with one voice, it would have been awesome,’ he
The recent debate over the nomination of Assemblyman Alexander
‘Pete’ Grannis as commissioner of the Department of Environmental
Conservation was one where he said he believed the council did not
Many sportsmen groups condemned the nomination of Grannis, who
has been behind numerous anti-trapping and anti-hunting bills over
The Conservation Council, though, took a ‘neutral’ position on
his candidacy. Monacchio said he believed the council should have
opposed Grannis, reflecting the sentiments of most of the state’s
Monacchio said he also did not believe the Conservation Council
was committed to the recent ‘summit’ of sportsmen groups that
worked to collectively push conservation-themed legislation and try
to address severe revenue deficits with the Conservation Fund.
CFAB, the Conservation Council, the state Fish and Wildlife
Management Board and Conservation Alliance of New York met as
members of the summit.
‘They wanted to go it alone and did not want to work with the
three other groups,’ Monacchio said of the council. ‘The
Conservation Council mouthed the words, but did something
Conservation Council President Harold Palmer said he believed
Monacchio was upset that the council did not support some of the
issues he made priorities, specifically a surcharge on outdoor
products and a visible fishing license.
But Palmer said the council’s membership would not support
either idea. He said they wanted more details about the surcharge
than were made available.
‘A couple of things he wanted to push, I couldn’t get support
for,’ Palmer said. ‘The visible fishing license, a majority of our
members did not want it.’
Wally John, the council’s legislative vice president and a
member of CFAB, said the council’s status as a non-profit
organization prevents it from becoming involved in political
activity, and taking a stance on Grannis’s nomination might have
violated that requirement.
‘We do not take political positions,’ he said.
The council’s membership was split on Grannis, and its by-laws
did not allow Palmer to make a ‘unilateral’ decision to denounce or
support him, John said.
But many of the sportsmen’s groups that make up the council can,
and did, weigh in on the Grannis issue on their own, John said.
Despite the criticism of the council, Palmer and John both
praised Monacchio’s efforts on behalf of the board and wished him
well in retirement.
Members of the 11-person CFAB are volunteers who meet monthly
and oversee the Conservation Fund, which pays the salaries of
hundreds of DEC employees and funds hunting, fishing and trapping
DEC spokeswoman Kimberly Chupa said there was no timetable to
name a replacement, and called Monacchio ‘a true environmental
steward’ whose years of service the agency was grateful for.
‘Bob worked diligently on behalf of our thousands of sportsmen
and women to help manage and protect our wildlife resources and
promote outdoors sports activities throughout New York state,’ she
said in a prepared statement.
As he left, Monacchio continued to tout ideas he believes would
help the Conservation Fund increase its revenue.
He said enactment of a junior sportsmen license, the creation of
a visible fishing license program, and a toughening of poaching
fines would go a long way toward addressing the deficit, estimated
at about $7 million.
Monacchio said he chose to step down in late March because
CFAB’s officer elections are held in early April. He said his
three-year term as Region 5 representative would have been up in
Monacchio’s slot will be filled by an appointee named by the
minority party leader of the state Assembly, Assemblyman James