State board of elections figures show two Adirondack land swap ballot proposals passing by handy margins, though the NYCO minerals project in Essex County appeared significantly closer.
The land swap that would allow mining on roughly 200 acres of forest preserve land in the town of Lewis was winning on a 53-46% margin.
The mining company will be required to spend at least $1 million buying new land for the state forest preserve and executives have said that they plan to purchase roughly 1500 acres around the Jay Mountain Wilderness.
State Senator Betty Little issued a statement praising passage of both measures.
“I’m very gratified and very happy voters approved propositions 4 and 5, which are so important to families and businesses in the Adirondacks,” said Senator Little. “Amending the State Constitution is not an easy process by design and both amendments reflected a very thorough and balanced approach that will help our economy and result in better recreational access important to tourism and protective of the environment.”
Environmental groups were split on the NYCO project, but it enjoyed broad support among elected officials in the North Country, and with DEC commissioner Joe Martens.
“We are grateful that the voters approved these two Constitutional Amendments authorizing land swaps involving the ‘forever wild’ Adirondack Forest Preserve,” said Adirondack Council executive director Willie Janeway in a statement.
“It shows that voters value the environmental and economic benefits of the State’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. They share our vision of an Adirondack Park that works best when its wild character is protected and its small towns and hamlets are vibrant and alive.”
But Adirondack Wild co-founder Dan Plumley argued that the vote weakens protections for the Park’s wild lands. “The closeness of the final tally on Proposition 5 is sheer testimony to the highly controversial nature of this terrible, damaging precedent,” he said.
That message was blurred, however, by support for the measure among many long-standing environmental activists and officials, including former APA commissioner Ross Whaley and Peter Paine Jr., who helped create the modern Adirondack Park.
Protect the Adirondacks executive director Peter Bauer said that the outcome marked a significant “difference of vision” between
“This is a serious fault line clearly,” he said. “Proposition 5 really laid that bare.”
RAQUETTE LAKE VOTE LESS CONTROVERSIAL
Meanwhile, a land swap to settle a long-running property line dispute in the Hamilton County hamlet of Racquette Lake appeared to be winning approval by a wider 72-27% margin.
That project saw no organized opposition. Supporters have suggested that revenue from the land swap could be used to acquire the Marion Carry parcel of land, preserving a traditional Adirondack portage trail.
That deal will grant clear title to businesses and homeowners in the remote rural community.