Green APA commissioner embraces NYCO land swap

Dick Booth, commissioner Adirondack park Agency (Photo:  APA)

Dick Booth, commissioner Adirondack park Agency (Photo: APA)

A fierce debate has lingered within the Adirondack Park’s environmental movement over the NYCO land swap in the Adirondack town of Lewis, which was approved last week by voters statewide.

The deal will allow NYCO minerals to excavate wollastonite from roughly 200 acres of Park land.  In exchange, the company will purchase land to be added to the forest preserve worth at least $1 million.

Because it impacted publicly-owned Park land, the deal required a constitutional amendment to move forward.

Yesterday at the APA meeting in Ray Brook, commissioner Dick Booth — who teaches environmental law at Cornell University and is widely respected within the Park’s green community — embraced the deal.

“I think the NYCO thing made a huge amount of sense,” Booth said, during an open comment period.

“A number of people said it was a bad precedent.  My sense is that the constitutional process worked. When the question was narrowly drawn, it makes sense.  The forest preserve I think is going to clearly benefit from this.  I was glad that people voted to support it.”

Booth joins a number of other environmental leaders who publicly supported the deal, including Willie Janeway and John Sheehan at the Adirondack Council, Neil Woodworth at the Adirondack Mountain Club, as well as Peter Paine Jr, the former APA commissioner from Willsboro who helped create the modern Adirondack Park Agency.

Other environmental leaders, however, have decried the deal arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for the commercial exploitation of the Park’s “forever wild” forest preserve.

They also argue that the land deal was poorly vetted and will impact mature stands of trees and vernal pools.

Even after the vote, the dispute within the green community has lingered with both sides arguing their perspectives in sometimes combative web posts.

4 Responses to “Green APA commissioner embraces NYCO land swap”

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  1. Paul says:

    Why does the minority (Protect, etc.) keep getting this kind of press? Report the facts regarding their position on this matter, they are just plain wrong.

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  2. Paul says:

    “They also argue that the land deal was poorly vetted and will impact mature stands of trees and vernal pools.”

    Brian Mann, again, is this their “argument” or is it true? You are the journalist if you want to write it check it out? According to other expert sources there are no “old growth” trees there as they “argue”. Just the facts please.

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  3. Bob says:

    Trust me, Protect! never lets the facts get in their way!

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  4. Sparrow says:

    Sorry guys but you are not reading enough of Protect’s stuff, Or the Sierra Club’s. Or the Atlantic States Legal Foundation’s. Or Adirondack Wild’s. Or the nearly half of the voters (47%) who were on the right side of this thing. And you don’t have to read between the lines to get it.

    Plain and simple, the integrity of Article 14 matters. That’s the bottom line. That’s where the weight is, the priority is. A lot of people were conned by the simple message: “1500 acres for 200, that’s a good deal” The strategy of ADK, the Council and NYCLV was never to mention Article 14, to divert attention away from it, to get people arguing about jobs (a red herring since all of the jobs will be moved to Oak Hill one way or another sooner or later). Or whether old growth Forever Wild Wilderness purchased at tax sale in the 1890s (over 123 years old minimum) is more or less valuable than 6 scattered parcels of cut-over land replete with roads. Or whether the 200 acres of Wilderness can be rehabed in anything less than generations. etc. etc. All irrelevant. A diversionary sideshow. The strategy was to keep the public from understanding or even knowing about the importance upholding the integrity of Article 14 as a first order of business..

    The only thing that matters is that the State is back to its old pre-1894 tricks and abuses of selling Forest Preserve to the highest bidder whether the payoff is in acres of land or dollars. Selling Forest Preserve to a private company strictly for its profit and “convenience” (NYCO’s word), with no public purpose, in order to continue the 200 foot deep Lewis pit across the boundary into the Jay Mountain Wilderness for only “8 to10 years” (NYCOs estimate) worth of mining ist verbotten! No lease, no sale, no exchange, no cutting. How far under the bus do you want to throw the Forever Wild provision before you wake up one day to find it not worth the papyrus it is printed on because the State will have done one “good deal” too many and cheapened it beyond repair. How many more “good deals” are waiting out there for the State to broker in mining and jobs, another resort with jobs, cutting mature Forest Preserve for jobs, or some other economic use that will bring jobs? As Peter Bauer said we are going down a slippery slope.

    And don’t tell me about the Perkins Clearing “precedent” either, which proponents said at the time was “not a precedent” because all of these things had to be taken one at a time on their merits – and now they are using it as a precedent but are telling us that NYCO will not be used as a precedent. Talk about 2-faced. Also, Perkins benefited management of the State land as much as it did IP land. And there were other public benefits too, such as elimination of float plane landings in Wilderness. Even so, the Sierra Club was opposed because it smelled of too much of a “good deal” for IP. “Public purpose” is not the be all and end all of it either. That’s not the smell test for the meaning of Article 14.

    Behan Associates and NYCO and the Council and ADK and NYLCV bought (with over $500,000 for Behan)and sloganeered their way to a win for themselves, not for the Park.. They will be reminded often of their shameful position against the essence of the meaning of Article14, all for a “good deal.”; it will not go away easily. The unions were beyond shame. What did they ever care about Article 14? This was all about money and lobbying and buying media coverage. Protect and the other opponents were steamrollered and did well to garner 47 % of the vote. Winning by 3% is nothing for the proponents to crow about.

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