2013 Constitutional Amendments
The Township 40 Amendment
This November, if you live in New York, you will make a choice on a ballot issue that has followed a long, complex path, finally to come before the voters of New York. The question involves approving an amendment to the state constitution that will resolve a long-standing ownership dispute between the state of New York and more than two hundred home and camp owners living on about 1000 acres around Raquette Lake in the center of the Adirondack Park. The controversy has been the subject of litigation and frustration, but now both sides have crafted a way out. ADK, the state of New York, the Township 40 Committee (which represents residents of the disputed land), and many other Adirondack conservation organizations agree that the Township 40 Amendment on which New York citizens will vote in November will solve the issue.
The Township 40 Amendment calls for residents of the disputed Township 40 parcels to contribute to a fund in accordance with the value of the land on which they reside. These new funds will be used to purchase lands associated with the Marion River Carry, an important property for paddling recreationists who wish to portage between the Eckford Chain of Lakes and Raquette Lake. In exchange for their contribution to this purchase, the Township 40 residents will be granted clear title to the Raquette Lake properties that they have been using.
ADK supports this amendment because it solves a long-standing Forest Preserve dispute, and provides increased access to Raquette Lake, the Marion River, and the Eckford Chain for canoes and kayaks. In a recent Adirondack Almanac article Phil Brown describes the parcel the state intends to acquire from the Open Space Institute (OSI) with the funding provided by the Township 40 Amendment: "The Marion River parcel…includes a 1,500-foot trail used by paddlers on a popular canoe route that connects the hamlets of Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake. If starting in Blue Mountain Lake, paddlers travel down the Eckford Chain (Blue Mountain, Eagle, and Utowana lakes), carry to the Marion, and then go downriver to Raquette Lake. Katharine Petronis, OSI’s northern programs director, said the parcel includes nearly a mile and a half of the Marion and more than 4,800 feet of Utowana shoreline. It also links the Blue Mountain and Sargent Ponds Wild Forest Areas.” ("State May Acquire Marion River Carry,” www.adirondackalmanack.com, August 2, 2013)
ADK’s policy is to develop and support legislative solutions to issues that may impact Article 14 of the New York State Constitution. Article 14 defines and protects New York’s Forest Preserve and establishes the "Forever Wild” conditions of these public lands. The Township 40 Amendment allows us to put a century-old dispute to rest in a way that is fair to all involved, most importantly to the public who will be able to enjoy increased access to the wild lakes and rivers of the Forest Preserve. The NYCO Constitutional Amendment
Also on the ballot this November is the NYCO Constitutional Amendment. In brief, this constitutional amendment involves a land exchange with NYCO Minerals, Inc., which currently owns a wollastonite mine directly adjacent to Forest Preserve lands of the Jay Mountain Wilderness, near the town of Lewis, Essex County. The exchange proposed in the Amendment would give NYCO Minerals 200 acres known as Lot 8, which will allow the company to finish mining a wollastonite deposit that extends into Lot 8 from the company’s current mining operation. Due to the results of preliminary evaluations of the remaining deposit in Lot 8, geologists from both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NYCO Minerals predict that only 50 acres of the 200 available to NYCO in the proposed land exchange will be used for mining by the company. After mining operations are complete, the acreage disturbed by the wollastonite mining will be reclaimed, recontoured, reforested, and returned to the Forest Preserve.
Since our last report, we now know that the land offered in exchange for Lot 8 will be over 1500 acres. The 200 acres of Lot 8 will be exchanged for northwest and southeast acreage additions to the Jay Mountain Wilderness totaling 1500 acres. The southeastern additions include two Class A wild trout streams and provide new hiking access to the Jay Mountain Range from the southeast. The northwest parcels will provide excellent hiking access from Nugent Road in the Town of Jay to the northeast peaks of the Jay Mountain Range.
The ADK Conservation Committee, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors all voted (nearly unanimously) to support the NYCO Constitutional Amendment. In addition to ADK, the Adirondack Council supports both the NYCO and Township 40 Constitutional Amendments.