NY Proposition 5 Will Protect Adirondacks: Good for the Forest Preserve, Good for Jobs, Good for NY

Environmental Group's Criticism Gets it Wrong

LEWIS, NY (10/04/2013)(readMedia)-- It's incomprehensible that an organization calling itself "Protect The Adirondacks" would call the addition of 1,500 acres of land to the Adirondack Forest Preserve a "bad deal."

But then again, Protect's criticisms are based on bad information.

By approving Proposition 5 - The Adirondack Land Swap - on Election Day, New York voters will approve expanding the Adirondack Forest Preserve by 1,500 acres of forests that are rich in fishing and hiking opportunities and that provide greater public access to the Jay Mountain Wilderness, Hurricane Mountain Wilderness and Taylor Pond Wild Forest. Included are more than two miles along Spruce Mill Brook, more than a mile along Derby Brook and approximately one mile along the north branch of the Boquet River.

In return for these new lands, New York State would provide longtime Adirondack business NYCO Minerals Inc. with temporary access to 200 acres of Forest Preserve land that immediately adjoins NYCO's wollastonite mine in the Town of Lewis, Essex County. Providing this access will allow NYCO to continue its operations at the site for an additional eight to ten years, helping sustain 100 jobs very important to the fabric of this rural community. At the conclusion of this period, NYCO would reclaim and replant the 200 acres and donate the land back to the Forest Preserve.

Here's where Protect The Adirondacks gets it wrong:

They say: Proposition 5 sets a bad precedent by allowing land to be removed from the Forest Preserve "solely ... for private commercial gain."

In reality: The precedent allowing voters to make these common-sense decisions is granted in the state's constitutional amendment process. While the drafters of the Constitution sought to ensure extraordinary protection for the Adirondack Forest Preserve, they also wisely foresaw that there might be circumstances in which the Constitution should be amended for the benefit of the public.

In the case of Proposition 5, the beneficiaries are many: NYCO's 100 employees and their families; the other businesses across the region that rely on NYCO and its employees for their sustenance; the local governments that rely on the tax payments of NYCO and its employees; the not-for-profit organizations that rely on the philanthropic and volunteer contributions of NYCO and its employees; everyone who uses the vast number of products that include wollastonite, from auto parts to paints to ceramic dinnerware; and, of course, everyone who will ever enjoy the 1,500 acres of newly protected open space.

They say: The public doesn't know exactly what it is giving up and what will be received in return.

In reality: NYCO and New York State, with considerable input from the Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Mountain Club, have agreed upon the 1,500 acres that will be added to the Forest Preserve if Proposition 5 is approved. Those properties are described in detail at www.adirondacklandswap.com and have been reported on in numerous news media accounts. Three of these properties are currently owned by NYCO, and options on the other three properties have been obtained.

Lot 8, the 200-acre parcel of land that will be temporarily used by NYCO, has similarly been well-described.

They say: NYCO has another nearby property from which it can obtain wollastonite rather than using Lot 8, and has exaggerated the importance of obtaining use of the 200-acre parcel.

In reality: Proposition 5 is all about helping keep NYCO, its 100 jobs and all of its spin-off economic activity in the Adirondacks for as long as possible.

The fact that NYCO has a permitted mine site at nearby Oak Hill is well-known. NYCO has also fully explained that the wollastonite there is buried much more deeply in the ground, making it far more costly to remove. Operating there today would pose serious competitive challenges to NYCO as the company fights to compete in the global wollastonite market - and any threat to NYCO's global competitiveness jeopardizes local jobs. Extending its operations onto Lot 8, a site that is just 50 feet from NYCO's active mine, would allow NYCO to stay competitive because the wollastonite is closer to the surface and because the company already has its infrastructure and equipment in place at that location.

It's also critical to remember that there is a finite supply of wollastonite in the Adirondacks. No matter how you look at it, NYCO's use of the wollastonite on Lot 8 will extend the life of the business and its jobs and economic impacts in the Adirondacks for an additional eight to 10 years.

They say: Lot 8 is old growth forest.

In reality: That's just not true. An analysis prepared by the New York Natural Heritage Program, a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry, found that Lot 8 is not an old growth forest.

Echoing this finding, the Adirondack Council, in its statement of support for Proposition 5, says:

"Surveys show no significant biological, environmental, wildlife or recreational resources on the 200 acres being traded to NYCO."

At the same time, the Adirondack Council says:

"The 1,507 acres to be added to the Forest Preserve contain important wildlife habitat, more than three miles of stream, sensitive fisheries, and recreational resources. Much of this area is also identified in New York State's Open Space Conservation Plan as lands that should be protected as part of the Lake Champlain Watershed priority project ... The 1,507 acres coming into the Forest Preserve are better habitat for fish and wildlife, would be worth considerably more in ecological value, and would have greater dollar value than the 200 acres given up."

While Protect The Adirondacks focuses on keeping 1,500 acres of prime recreational lands out of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, the following groups have demonstrated their support for Adirondack forests and jobs with statements of support for Proposition 5:

• Adirondack Council

• New York AFL-CIO

• United Steelworkers

• Congressman Bill Owens

Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine

• Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages

• Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board

• Essex County Board of Supervisors

• Town of Lewis

• Town of Willsboro

• Hamilton County Board of Supervisors

• Town of Long Lake

North Country Regional Economic Development Council

Denton Publications

• North Country Chamber of Commerce

• The Business Council of New York State

Proposition 5 is good for the environment and the economy of the Adirondack Park. It provides more open space and recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Forest Preserve and protects 100 jobs and the communities, schools, churches, fire departments and small businesses that depend on NYCO and its employees.

For more information, please visit www.adirondacklandswap.com