On November 7th, voters will make decisions on two important New York State Ballot Proposals. ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) Board of Directors (BOD) took policy positions on both of these ballot issues because of the impact they will have on New York State public lands.

Photo by Carl Heilman

ADK’s BOD voted to OPPOSE Proposal 1.  ADK’s BOD is concerned that the ‘Forever Wild’ protection under Article XIV of the New York State Constitution could be weakened or detrimentally modified by a Constitutional Convention as defined in Proposal 1. This proposal is a voter referendum held every 20 years to decide if there should be a New York State Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention is unlimited in the scope of what it could change. Opening up our entire constitution to change would risk putting fundamental rights and protections in the hands of special interests who would control the process. That’s why this measure is opposed by more than 102 organizations throughout the state, and across party lines, including teachers, nurses, business groups, religious leaders, and environmental groups, including ADK. ADK’s BOD is concerned that the ‘Forever Wild’ protections under Article XIV of the New York State Constitution could be weakened or detrimentally modified by a Constitutional Convention as defined in Proposal 1.

Photo by Chuck Helfer

ADK’s BOD voted to SUPPORT Proposal 3. This proposal authorizes the use of Forest Preserve Land for specified purposes. The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation.

New York’s Adirondack and Catskill State Parks are two of the largest natural areas in the United States. 2.6 million acres of the Adirondacks and 286,000 acres of the Catskills are protected as forest preserves under New York’s Constitution. However, both parks also include many small towns and villages. Because of how the forest protection clause in the state constitution is written, there are times when these small towns and villages can’t make infrastructure or road safety improvements without passing a statewide ballot measure to do so. Nothing is more important than safe, clean water to drink. Passing Proposal 3 will help Adirondack and Catskill communities make crucial upgrades to water and sewer lines to ensure that rivers, lakes, streams and their drinking water is safe and clean.

Proposal 3 would make it easier and less bureaucratic for these towns and villages to make needed health and safety improvements, such as fixing road hazards, improving wells for drinking water, and creating bike paths. Only small projects where there is no alternative to using state land would be eligible. The total amount of land set aside for this purpose will be limited to no more than 250 acres. Each project would be subject to environmental oversight by the State, and Proposal 3 would not require any new taxes or fees. Outdoor recreation is a critical part of the Adirondacks and Catskills way of life. This measure ensures that the public lands and recreational access they provide will remain a treasured resource for all New Yorkers to enjoy.