KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Retiring U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey said he hopes his upstate New York district remains intact through the current redistricting process.

The 73-year-old Democrat made the comment Thursday as he officially announced that he will retire when his 10th term concludes at the end of this year. Hinchey recently completed treatment for colon cancer, and he told supporters the experience gave him a greater appreciation for his family and friends.

"This life-changing experience helped put everything in perspective for me," he said.

New York legislators are now wrestling with how the state will drop two of its 29 congressional seats under the once-a-decade redistricting process. Hinchey's exit gives lawmakers an opportunity to cut a district without displacing an incumbent.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But Hinchey said he hopes the 22nd District, which stretches west from the Hudson Valley to Binghamton and Ithaca, does not become a target.

"I feel, frankly, very strongly that the integrity of the 22nd District, which had encompassed the same general area for four decades, should be preserved and remain largely intact," he said.

He added that he did not know the fate of his district.

Hinchey, known for his environmental advocacy, said he was especially proud of his work on behalf of the cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson River and his efforts against hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. He also noted his support of Interstate 86 along the Southern Tier and transformation of an old railway bridge over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie into a popular pedestrian bridge.