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Notes from the North Country

Enviros: Vote "NO" on Proposition 5

A coalition has formed in opposition to the fifth ballot proposition on this year's ballot.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter say the proposition, which would allow a land swap, is a mistake and should be voted down on Nov. 5. These groups reject the claim from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that there are no older forests on the 200-acres proposed for expanded mining.

According to Adirondack Wild, they recently found found a significant number of scenic and ecologically significant older or old-growth stands of Sugar Maple, American Beech, American Basswood trees scattered throughout the site. To reinforce their argument, they have put together a photographic slideshow.

“Exploring the Lot 8 wilderness tract is truly a walk through time with countless large, tall old growth northern hardwood trees of 200 to 300 years in age," Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve partner Dan Plumley said in a statement.

"After experiencing the sylvan beauty and rich ecology of this old growth, forever wild site, I can't imagine how anyone would support its being exploited into complete destruction willingly through corporate, open-pit mining," Plumley said. "To see these forest lands destroyed for private, corporate gain would be unconscionable."

The groups acknowledge the deal would authorize new Forest Preserve lands, but would prefer these new lands to be acquired through regular open space planning and appropriations from the state environmental protection fund.

“We urge voters to say no to exploitative, damaging and unnecessary mining on such a beautiful part of our publicly-owned, Forever wild Forest Preserve,” Plumley said.

UPDATE: After this was posted, a spokesman for NYCO Minerals asked for equal time. Below is his counter argument

• A coalition of two dozen organizations and individuals from the Adirondacks and across the state have joined together in support of Proposition 5. This coalition includes The New York League of Conservation Voters, arguably the most respected and influential environmental organization in the state. The Adirondacks’ leading environmental voices, The Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Mountain Club, have also publicly stated their support for this proposition.

• A report from the New York Natural Heritage Program (a partnership of NYSDEC and the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry) determined that the 200-acre parcel of Forest Preserve land that would be temporarily traded to NYCO Minerals to help protect 100 Adirondack Region jobs is not an old-growth forest.

• The Adirondack Council’s scientific analysis of the 200 acres found: “no significant biological, environmental, wildlife or recreational resources on the 200 acres being traded to NYCO.” What’s more, the Council wrote: “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 the project opponents are correct that New York State could conceivably purchase the 1,500 acres instead, one has to ask whether spending $1 million of taxpayer money on forestland is really a prudent decision, given the state’s current fiscal condition.

• Proposition 5 would enable a longtime Adirondack business to expand the life of its Adirondack operations and 100 jobs by another decade, while at the same time adding 1,500 acres of land to the Forest Preserve — at no cost to taxpayers.

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