Dan Cohen AUTHOR An initiative led by a local conservation group to protect land surrounding Fort Drum from development would receive $1 million under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) 2016-2017 budget proposal.The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, in partnership with Fort Drum and Ducks Unlimited, acquires the development rights to properties outside the post in an effort to prevent new projects that could interfere with Army training. The deals usually allow property owners to continue agricultural activities on their land, reported the Watertown Daily News.The proposed funding in the governor’s budget would represent a drop from Cuomo’s $1.5 million request last year, which the state Senate increased to $2.0 million. The state contributed $1 million to the local buffer program in 2014.To date, the effort has spent about $9 million to purchase the development rights of 23 properties, covering about 6,500 acres.“We have a lot of places to use the money,” said Linda Garrett, executive director of the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust.There are two projects the trust hopes to close by June, with 18 others, representing about 3,500 acres of land, also under review, Garrett told the paper. “We’ve got a lot of people waiting,” she said.