Monday, December 23, 2013

Phil Brown: NYCO Overcame Aversion To Proposition 5

800px-2013_Adirondack_Land_Exchange_MapNYCO Minerals spent $662,000 to secure passage of Proposition 5, whereas opponents of the measure spent hardly anything. Yet the proposition passed by a fairly narrow margin, earning only 53 percent of the vote.

Opponents of Prop 5 have portrayed the ballot battle as a David-versus-Goliath confrontation in which David almost won. The assumption is that, despite spending almost no money, the little guys persuaded 47 percent of the electorate to vote against the proposition.

There is some truth in this, but the bigger picture is more complicated.

Proposition 5 authorizes the state to give NYCO a two-hundred-acre parcel in the Jay Mountain Wilderness in exchange for land of equal or greater value. Lot 8, as the parcel is known, abuts the company’s wollastonite mine in the town of Lewis. NYCO wants to expand the mine onto Lot 8. Here’s how the ballot measure was worded:

The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on mining the land. In exchange, NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million, to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining, it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

By necessity, the ballot measure contained only a bare-bones description (three sentences, 97 words) of the proposed amendment. It did not—and could not—get into the pros and cons that were debated on the Almanack and elsewhere in the media.

Before November’s vote, NYCO hired Behan Communications of Glens Falls to conduct a poll and marketing campaign. The initial poll, done a month or so before the election, found that more people opposed the proposal than favored it (44 percent versus 40 percent), according to Mark Buckley, the company’s environmental manager. “It was almost split down the middle,” Buckley told the Almanack.

When NYCO explained the proposition, Buckley said, the measure came out ahead (54 percent to 44 percent), with most of those in the undecided camp switching to the favorable camp.

Thus, it seems that most people were predisposed to vote against giving away a piece of the Forest Preserve to a mining company—or at least were hesitant to do so. Whether or not you favored Proposition 5, this is a good thing. It shows that the public’s gut reaction is to protect the Preserve.

So NYCO and Behan Communications had their work cut out for them. They had to overcome the initial aversion to Prop 5. The opponents just had to hold the line.

As we know, NYCO and Behan succeeded with their marketing campaign, arguing that the expansion of the mine would preserve about a hundred jobs and that the state would receive far more land (probably 1,500 acres) than it would give up (and it would eventually get back Lot 8, to boot).

If the opponents had $662,000 to spend, the outcome might have been different. But that is not a certainty. Comparing the initial NYCO poll with the election results, one is led to conclude that the opponents failed to pick up many converts. Was this because they lacked the money to get their message across? Or did NYCO win on the facts? The answer probably will depend on which camp you’re in.

 

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




79 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    I definitely think that you start a campaign for a prop like that as an uphill battle anyway. The amendment process is that way by design. The wording of the ballot made several friends of mine down here ask me if I knew what this was about (not sure what would qualify me for advice?). But I think that most folks (myself included) would read a prop like this with extreme skepticism. Any change to the constitution (even ones that do not affect article 14) are serious business.

  2. Bill Ingersoll says:

    Another factor resulting in the split vote was the split in the Adirondack conservation community, resulting in a corresponding split in the vote. In military terms, this tactic is known as “divide and conquer.”

    One of the two green groups that sided with NYCO was the Adirondack Mountain Club, under the leadership of Neil Woodworth. ADK’s decision to support Prop 5 becomes less mysterious when considered in the context of this:

    1) ADK voted to support NYCO in the summer of 2012. Woodworth stated on record (conservation committee minutes May 2012) that ADK was hoping for a “tit for tat” with Betty Little. By blessing Prop 5, ADK was hoping for a political favor in return.

    2) In December 2012, ADK received a grant of $221,073 to upgrade the High Peaks Information Center, nearby campground and related infrastructure from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. (http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/534699/ADK-to-upgrade-Heart-Lake-facility.html)

    3) State Senator Betty Little serves on the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, and in that capacity she would have been in a position to review ADK’s grant request. (http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/north-country)

  3. Alan Senbaugh says:

    What upgrade has occurred? I saw them rip the garden out.

  4. Phil Terrie says:

    “Or did NYCO win on the facts?” Given the misinformation, especially about jobs, that NYCO and its allies spread around, I find “facts” to be more than a little generous.

    • Phil Brown says:

      Phil, I didn’t see any of the TV ads. However, NYCO’s main arguments seem fact-based: the state will get more land than it gives up, NYCO will return Lot 8 after mining it, and the extension of the mine will preserve jobs over the long term. Of course, you could accept those facts and still oppose Prop 5.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      The argument that Prop 5 will impact NYCO’s employees is presumptive, not fact-based. The language amendment in no way obligates the company to sustain anyone’s job for any period of time.

      Prop 5 authorized a test drill on state land in anticipation of a land exchange — no more, no less.

      Claims to the contrary do not become more truthful upon repetition.

      • Phil Brown says:

        Bill, the claim that extending the life of the mine will extend the jobs of those working there is absolutely fact-based. There is a mine, it employs people, and the longer it stays in operation, the longer it will employ people. Yes, the claim is “presumptive” in that it presumes the mine will stay in business (which is the presumption of most businesses). Contrary to your assertion, that does not mean the claim is not fact-based.

      • Bill Ingersoll says:

        Phil, if you can point to me the provisions within Prop 5 that require NYCO to maintain a specified staffing level, that forbids it from selling the expensive-to-operate Oak Hill site, or that impose a certain production level over the course of the next 10 – 20 years, then I will concede that you have a case.

        But beyond that, any assumptions about Proposition 5 beyond test drilling and land exchanges is purely speculative, beyond the control of those who voted in November. This should be basic common sense.

        • Phil Brown says:

          Of course Prop 5 does not mandate that NYCO employ a specific number of people. It does not follow that extending the life of the mine will not preserve jobs. Common sense leads to the opposite conclusion.

          As to the land swap, which parcels the state acquires will depend on what the state can afford with the money it gets from NYCO.But NYCO must give the state at least $1M to buy land. The state has identified several parcels that are likely candidates for acquisition. You’re right that the law does not mandate that these lands be the ones added to the Preserve. But to call their acquisition “purely speculative” suggests that there is no basis for thinking they will be the parcels acquired by the state. These are, in fact, the parcels the state tentatively plans to acquire. In any case, my only point above was that the state stands to acquire more land than it gives up.

        • Bill Ingersoll says:

          Phil, please reread my post. It’s only the jobs claim that I’m calling into question, not the $1 million, not the likelihood that land will be acquired if the drilling and mining proceeds. Merry Christmas.

          • Phil Brown says:

            Point taken. Then we just disagree on whether or not the jobs claim is “fact-based.” As to that, I’ll stand by my earlier post. I would ask you this: if Prop 5 would preserve jobs, would you still oppose it? If so, why spend so much time trying to make the argument that extending the life of a mine will not extend the jobs of people working there? I don’t find it persuasive, and I’m sure many others don’t either.

          • Bill Ingersoll says:

            Phil,

            I’ll decline to answer the hypothetical question.

            However, I have been making a stink over the “jobs” angle because this was NYCO’s strongest argument; who really gives a damn about those 1500 acres?

            Prop 5 only authorized test drilling in contemplation of a land exchange, plain and simple. Whether this will translate into continued employment is a matter of speculation.

            Yes, it is a reasonable **conclusion** that jobs might be prolonged at NYCO because of Prop 5, and if you presented your views that way–as a conclusion that you have reached based on certain presumptions–then great. No problem.

            But you’re insisting on this point as being a matter of fact. And because you’re the one telling this story every other month in the pages of the Explorer, I frankly find it troubling that you are unable to differentiate between what are truly the facts about NYCO and Prop 5–the verifiable points on which no one disagrees–apart from what you regard as the preferred outcome.

            Because inherent within the “prolonged jobs” argument are assumptions that NYCO will eventually mine Oak Hill, that demand for wollastonite will remain steady, and other variables. These are reasonable assumptions, but they are not facts.

            • Phil Brown says:

              Bill, in my news articles I have not insisted on any facts or pushed my “preferred outcome” (which you presume to know). Yes, I happen to think it’s reasonable to assume that Prop 5 will extend jobs. Your tendentious argument that it won’t amounts to the trite claim that we can’t predict the future.

            • Bill Ingersoll says:

              Phil,

              I have no intentions of turning you into an adversary over this–and I apologize if I’m over generalizing about your reporting–but the fact that this is our third or fourth time going around on this suggests a mutual reluctance to let the other party have the last word. 😉

              And when I have to get out a dictionary to see that you think my argument is biased, then I know this has the potential to get ugly.

              Of course I’m biased. Duh. Everybody has a bias, including reporters. We aren’t machines, we’re humans. Biases are how we weigh information and make the value judgments that inform our actions.

              So once again, Merry Christmas.

  5. Will Doolittle says:

    As with most things, the “yes” vote probably resulted from a combination of factors — better marketing by the advocates and people being convinced by the facts it was a good thing. Bill, I think “divide and conquer” usually refers to one side splitting the opponent’s forces somehow and pitting them against each other. I don’t think that’s what happened here. I believe there was an honest difference of opinion — that ADK and the Adirondack Council believed, on balance, the proposal was a positive thing for the Park, and other groups such as Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks believed it was a negative thing. I don’t think ADK and Adirondack Council were turned against the proposal by an outside force, but came to their positions on their own.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      I was present when ADK made its decision, and recorded the discussion as the official minute taker for the conservation committee in May 2012.

      Betty Little was absolutely the outside force motivating ADK’s decision. The grant was not mentioned, but Neil Woodworth informed the committee that if ADK did not support NYCO, the state senator would block the purchase of Finch Pruyn lands. This assumption was reiterated by other ADK staff members present that day.

      So forgive me if I remain unimpressed with the speculation of someone who was not present that day.

      ADK was influenced by Betty Little, as recorded in its own minutes.

      • Will Doolittle says:

        That’s pretty interesting. Neil W. said flat out ADK had to do this or else Betty Little would block the purchase of Finch lands? Will Neil confirm that? That’s a pretty big deal. Was Betty Little in a position in May 2012 to block that deal?

        • Will Doolittle says:

          What you are saying is the Finch land deal, which had been in the works for many years, hinged on ADK supporting the NYCO proposal. That’s a pretty big claim, and one I don’t think I have heard.

          • Alan Senbaugh says:

            Why is the assertion that a politician wielding their power for a proposal they view as crucial so surprising. It’s the kind of compromise, give and take that happens all the time. Endorse prop V and I won’t help block finch purchases. Not exactly Tammany Hall politics.

      • Bill Ingersoll says:

        Neil Woodworth told the ADK conservation committee flat-out on May 5, 2012, that the Finch Pruyn purchase was at risk if ADK didn’t play ball with Betty Little.

        If you ask him directly, he will probably talk around your questions without actually answering them. But nevertheless, the minutes from that meeting are explicit. Here is the relevant excerpt, where he made a clear insinuation:

        “[Woodworth:] DEC believes that approving this amendment could sway Sen. Little’s support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby acquisitions.”

        This was reinforced later in the discussion by one of his staff members:

        “Foskett: It is politically wise for ADK to appear sensitive to community needs. If jobs are terminated because the amendment is defeated, it could be blamed on environmental opposition. This could be a “tit for tat” situation where if we appear willing to be flexible, we may get something in return—namely, support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby projects.”

        I agree that introducing Finch Pruyn into the NYCO discussion was a red herring; neither Neil nor his staff ever explained **how** Betty Little could impact Finch Pruyn. But he made the insinuation, and a committee that had been highly skeptical of NYCO at previous meetings all of a sudden started to warm to the idea.

        The NCRDC grant that I mentioned above is what I suspect is the real motivation behind Neil’s actions. ADK is not in the best financial position right now; it has shed some of its staff, and it is contemplating the sale of its Lake George facility.

        • John Gilewicz, ADK VP says:

          Bill,
          Let me be clear.

          1. ADK is in the strongest financial position it has been in since its’ founding in 1922. To imply otherwise is patently false.
          2. A decision was made in early 2013 to change our staffing structure. The decision was based on need and to improve our operations, not on financial distress in any way, manner, shape, or form.
          3. We are in no way considering selling our Lake George facility. Again, this is patently false

          Bill, I urge you to consider your comments more carefully. You have made numerous statements that are outright untrue.

          • Bill Ingersoll says:

            According to the ADK strategic plan dated August 27, 2013 — which was discussed during the meeting where you and I met — you are reevaluating the Lake George building, including disposing of it. Item VI.b.

        • Will Doolittle says:

          OK. That’s a pretty long way from Neil saying she would block the Finch land deal if ADK didn’t support the NYCO proposal. It’s also a big jump from saying it’s politically wise and we may get something in return to asserting that Betty Little was in a position to block this deal, which was pretty far along at that point. Perhaps she could help. Perhaps she would be more willing to help if ADK backed the NYCO proposal. That is a long way from a gun to the head.

          • John Gilewicz, ADK VP says:

            Will,
            Let me clarify a couple issues.

            First, the Conservation Committee does not set ADK Policy. It is an advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors always confers with the appropriate Committees and seeks their input before putting an issue in front of the entire Board. Until the Board of Directors votes on an issue, it is not ADK Policy. On rare occasions, when time does not permit a convening of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee is authorized by the ADK By Laws to vote on an issue on behalf of the BoD. In most instances, the Executive Committee will then ask the BoD at its’ next meeting to confirm its’ decision, or vote to change the policy of the Executive Committee. The vote of the BoD is binding upon the organization. Such was the case with how the NYCO Amendment was handled. While Bill may recall that the influence of Betty Little was relevant to the Conservation Committee, at no time was it relevant to either the Executive Committee or the Board of Directors, who set ADK Policy. At no time was her supposed influence raised during our discussions at either the ExCom meetings or the BoD meeting at which the actions of the ExCom were endorsed by a vote of 28-2.

            On a personal note, let me offer my reasons for supporting the Amendment. These in no way reflect the opinions of the other Board members, and should not be construed in such a manner.

            NYCO will gain temporary use of 200 acres, of which it is anticipated they will clear and mine 50. But let us assume they will do so for the entire 200 acres. What do the citizens of New York get in exchange?
            1. The DEC has identified 6 parcels for acquisition, three of which are contiguous with the Jay Mountain Wilderness. These three areas total approximately 1,200 acres, and include several miles of streams and improved trail access to nearby Slip and Saddleback Mountains.
            2. The people of the Adirondacks, who provide us shelter when we visit, food when we want it, pump our gas when we need it, and make sure we get to the Hospital when we must, keep a $6 Million payroll for another 10 years. That means they get to pay their mortgage, keep their car on the road, put their kids through college, and maybe save for their retirement. We cannot, in good conscience, ignore the reality of those living within the confines of the Park boundary. We do so at our own peril, and at the peril of future efforts to protect the Park.
            3. When NYCO is done mining, they are required to fill in the mine, and restore it with native vegetation. And equally important, return the land to the State of New York for inclusion in the Forest Preserve.

            What does it all mean? Somewhere around 100 people keep their jobs for another decade, and in the interim, we will have added some 1,500 acres to the Forest Preserve. In thirty years, the 200 acres will have been restored, and when my grandchildren are paddling on the newly acquired streams, hiking up Slip Mountain or Jay Mountain or Arnold Mountain or Hardwood Hill, they will be able to do so in a larger and better Jay Mountain Wilderness because of what we did.

            • dave says:

              “2. The people of the Adirondacks, who provide us shelter when we visit, food when we want it, pump our gas when we need it, and make sure we get to the Hospital when we must, keep a $6 Million payroll for another 10 years”

              Huh? The “people of the Adirondacks”? Who are you talking about here… who keeps 6 million dollars? I’m going to be able to pay my mortgage now thanks to Prop 5? What?

              • John Gilewicz says:

                Dave,
                most of the people who are employed by NYCO live within the park. At $60,000 per job (not my number) that is 100 people within the Park. Using a multiplier of 1.5, That is another 150 who are employed servicing those people. They work in hospitality, restaurants, convenience stores, and hospitals and clinics. When we need those services, they are available because of employers like NYCO. You can agree or disagree with what was done, but if there are no jobs within the park, there is no place to stay, eat, or refuel our cars when we visit. And all of those people employed in the park pay taxes, car loans, mortgages, ans send their kids to school and college. That is what I was referring to.

                • dave says:

                  The Park needs residents. We residents need jobs. No one would argue that obvious point.

                  The argument is always how you go about it.

                  Restaurants and convenience stores and hospitals exist because people use them. This is true whether those people are tourists, second home owners, telecommuters, some other industry, or NYCO employees.

                  So while it is great that the Adirondack Mountain Club supports jobs and healthy communities in the Park, it is disappointing to many of us – including many of us who are “the people of the Adirondacks” – that the way you chose to express this support was by backing an amendment to alter the Forever Wild clause so a corporation could mine state land.

              • Bill Ingersoll says:

                But what we are talking about are jobs that will inevitably come to an end.

                The Adirondack landscape is dotted with abandoned and inoperative mines. For example:

                *Tahawus
                *Hooper
                *Star Lake
                *Gore Mountain
                *Ticonderoga region

                By definition, mining is a short-term activity. Sure, some of the bigger and better-managed mines can be operated for decades, but inevitably the supply of ore begins to diminish and the jobs disappear. In my observation, the mines don’t shut down when the ore is depleted, but when the operational costs get too high.

                If you really want to help the regional economy, push for sustainable employment. And if you are a conservation group using the Forest Preserve as the coin to purchase political goodwill, then you have lost touch with your own core principles.

            • Bill Ingersoll says:

              “While Bill may recall that the influence of Betty Little was relevant to the Conservation Committee, at no time was it relevant to either the Executive Committee or the Board of Directors, who set ADK Policy. At no time was her supposed influence raised during our discussions at either the ExCom meetings or the BoD meeting at which the actions of the ExCom were endorsed by a vote of 28-2.”

              So in other words, your Executive Director told you one thing, and the conservation committee another.

              Did anyone from the executive committee of the BoD meet independently with DEC, NYCO, Betty Little, or any other stakeholder to obtain firsthand information prior to reaching a decision? Or were you relying on staff’s portrayal of the situation?

            • Alan Senbaugh says:

              “The people of the Adirondacks, who provide us shelter when we visit, food when we want it, pump our gas when we need it, and make sure we get to the Hospital when we must, keep a $6 Million payroll for another 10 years” You make it sound like we are a bunch of paupers here to help on your visit. Don’t you think we should have gotten more than a million dollars for it?

            • Will Doolittle says:

              Thanks.

            • Adam says:

              So what are you going to do for me, to get me a job in the park? I want to live and work in the Adirondacks,how much land do you need to take away from the tax payers so that I can personally benefit from it? You do NOT need to live in the Adirondacks. You choose to. You are very lucky for it. That does not mean the rest of the state has to give up part of their 3 million acres so that you or anybody else can live within the “confines” of the park, as if it is some jail house that you are sentenced to take residence there. Give me a break. And don’t give me that other crap about a place to stay, a place to eat etc……Fuel up your car before you leave, bring your food, cook your own meals and sleep in the wilderness……If this is not acceptable to you go to Disney World or Six Flags or something. Plenty of jobs there that you seek, as well as people to pump your gas, cook your food, find you shelter etc. etc.

        • Bill Ingersoll says:

          Does it make a difference whether Neil thought she might actively oppose the project, or passively discourage its funding, or even reach out a hand of support? As you imply, was her support even needed at that point for the acquisition to advance? I agree that there was probably little that she could do for or against Finch Pruyn at that point. The point is not that the threat of Betty Little’s intervention (good, bad, or indifferent) was credible, but only that Neil made the insinuation to sway the course of the committee’s conversation.

          Because the previous time NYCO was discussed by the committee at a prior meeting, there was almost a resolution to vote it down then and there–which was only tabled when someone pointed out that there was no actual amendment on paper yet, and therefore nothing to take action on.

          Never doubt the persuasiveness of inference. When you don’t have the facts to draw a conclusion, you can always make suggestions and let your audience come to that conclusion on their own.

          As I said, I was in that room, I took those notes, so I know what was said and what was left to the imagination. ADK was motivated to support NYCO because of Betty Little–the fear that she might somehow derail support for Finch Pruyn and smear ADK’s image, as indicated by the record. There were no NYCO representatives present to make their case directly to the committee, not even Betty Little herself. It was just Neil Woodworth, his staff, and his analysis that ADK’s action on one issue could impact another. If you think that this was a weak insinuation, then we are in agreement. Nevertheless, this was the reasoning.

      • John Gilewicz, ADK VP says:

        Bill,
        I have a copy of your minutes in front of me. According to your minutes, and I quote: “Foskett (ADK Employee): It is politically wise for ADK to appear sensitive to community needs. If jobs are terminated because the amendment is defeated, it could be blamed on environmental opposition. This could be a “tit for tat” situation where if we appear to be willing to be flexible, we may get something in return – namely, support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby projects”.
        In short, in the minutes you took, Neil never said, and I quote you – “…on record (conservation committee minutes May 2012) that ADK was hoping for a “tit for tat” with Betty Little.” In addition, the minutes reflect that your resolution to oppose the proposal could not obtain a second out of the 12 voting members present. In addition, the proposed Amendment was passed with 9 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstentions.

        As for the CFA grant, we did not even know details about the grants and application process until after the Conservation Committee endorsed the NYCO Amendment. In fact, originally ADK did not want to submit an application because of severe restraints that could have been imposed upon our Heart Lake property. These issues were not resolved until late summer, nearly 3 months after the Conservation Committee endorsed the NYCO Amendment, and ADK did not decide to submit a grant application until August 25, 2012, some 112 days after the Conservation Committee’s endorsement of the NYCO Amendment.

        As someone who was involved in these efforts since early 2012, I can state unequivocably that at no time was Betty Little ever mentioned in the context of these two separate and unrelated events. At no time did we ever consider what she may or may not have thought about any of the decisions we made.

        I understand your frustration with ADK not sharing your opinion as to policy. This was a divisive and contentious issue. You are free to your opinion, and free to give it voice. You are not, however, free to misstate facts from the very minutes you took and submitted to the Committee, the ADK Executive Committee, and the ADK Board of Directors.

        • Bill Ingersoll says:

          “As someone who was involved in these efforts since early 2012, I can state unequivocably that at no time was Betty Little ever mentioned in the context of these two separate and unrelated events. At no time did we ever consider what she may or may not have thought about any of the decisions we made.”

          But in the minutes you have in front of you, Betty Little’s influence is mentioned at least twice…

        • Alan Senbaugh says:

          Your underlying quote supports Bills argument. ADK’s decision was not based solely on the merits of prop 5 itself but an insinuated threat to the finch purchase. It is hard to imagine a green group supporting such a proposal. They were doing so to ensure (as they perceived) purchase of Finch which could be blocked by the town or unsupported by state funding. It was a perfect storm against the tiny Jay Wilderness by the political and industrial powers. Without the carrot dangling it’s hard to imagine ADK or Adirondack Council supporting a proposition that is so squarely a betrayal of Article 14. And let’s be honest, they did so for only 1,500 acres or 1 million dollars! Thats like 1880’s all over again but now in the form of a constitutional amendment.

          • Will Doolittle says:

            As you say, Bill, it’s a weak insinuation, and a weak argument you are making. Apparently, according to you, a weak insinuation is enough to sway almost every member of this committee. Are they that easy to influence? That uninformed? I believe ADK’s leaders decided, on balance, it would be worthwhile to support the NYCO proposal because they believed both that it could be worthwhile on its own merits — a net plus for the Adirondack Park — and because they thought it wise politically to show that ADK could be open to compromise and take into consideration factors such as local jobs and the local economy. I believe the leaders of the Adirondack Council came to a similar conclusion. No untoward pressure or backroom deal is necessary to understand this.

          • Bill Ingersoll says:

            Will, you are free to believe what you want. But I was there, and I witnessed the deliberation of the conservation committee myself. Since no one questioned the insinuation, and since there was much more skepticism about NYCO expressed at prior committee meetings, then it is valid to conclude that the warming of attitudes hinged on the perception that something of importance to ADK — namely, Finch Pruyn and Follensby Pond — was at stake.

            I’m not claiming that the process was invalid, and there is no denying that I was unable to swing more than 2 abstentions with my own arguments that day. But the record demonstrates that ADK leadership led the committee to believe a 65,000 land acquisition might be impacted in some vague, unspecified way — the mark of a skilled politician, if I might observe.

  6. Henrietta Jordan says:

    The “David vs. Goliath” analogy is not far off. Nonprofit organizations are restricted in what they can spend on direct and grassroots lobbying (urging the public to vote one way or another on a constitutional amendment is “direct” lobbying). For-profit organizations such as NYCO can spend as much as they want. This is the danger the Prop 5 vote should alert us to, regardless how we feel about the outcome: Large for-profit organizations can grossly outspend the non-profits who serve as the guardians of the Forest Preserve. If, as Phil Brown’s analysis suggests, the $662,000 Behan-crafted PR campaign made all the difference on Prop 5, what could a $1 million or $2 million campaign do in a more controversial land swap of “forever wild” land?

    • Paul says:

      On the other hand I think that a well financed campaign directed by many of the trusted environmentalists aimed at passing this proposition could have been very effective as well. They did some, but like you say, not a lot. If they could have (assuming they wanted to) this probably would have passed by a much larger margin, not because on NYCO but because of other people who also supported the amendment. One indisputable fact that remains is that the largest environmental organizations in the Adirondacks supported this amendment.

      • Alan Senbaugh says:

        You are correct. They did too little too late.

      • Henrietta Jordan says:

        I’m thinking I didn’t make my point clearly enough. When the expense of a media-saturation PR campaign for an amendment to Article 14 is regarded by a developer merely as the cost of doing business, will the non-profit guardians of the Forest Preserve, even if they are united in their opposition, be able to defeat it?

  7. zyxw says:

    I too fail to see how this amendment provides any guarantee that jobs will be preserved or created. However, shouting loudly that this was all about jobs, jobs, jobs appears to have been an effective PR tactic. The same argument is used whenever some degradation of the Forest Preserve is proposed, like the carve outs for the new snowmobile trails that are essentially roads into wilderness areas. Unfortunately, it is very hard to quantify the jobs lost when hikers or snowshoers stay away because they don’t want to be harassed by snowmobiles, or the many jobs created when thousands of hikers enjoy a new wilderness area.

  8. Phil Brown says:

    zyxw, I agree that wilderness attracts hikers and hikers boost tourism. However, do you really think the equivalent of 100 full-time, well-paying jobs will be lost because hikers will be scared away from the trail-less parcel known as Lot 8? Like it or not, this proposition is partly about jobs. So those who oppose it should be arguing that it is a bad idea DESPITE those jobs, not that those jobs are non-existent.

    • Alan Senbaugh says:

      It was totally about Jobs. It’s the economy stupid! When hasn’t environmental protection vs Resource exploitation not been about jobs. Big industry won this battle. It was sad for many of us who thought that people in charge of “like minded organizations” where brainwashed into thinking this wasn’t a bad deal or that they were willing to sell out in order to win, what they perceived, as the next big battle, the Finch lands. I was saddened to lose the Council as leading voice in Adirondack issues. I am a little easier on the ADK,for one they are really just a hiking club and secondly the Summit steward program is simply the best environmental education and protection program going. I never trusted Neil anyway. 🙂

  9. zyxw says:

    Phil, my point was that there are no real assurances in this amendment that protect jobs, just a good PR spin that it was all about jobs. Sure, it might help save those 100 jobs, but what if there is nothing found on the new parcel or what if the world price plummets because a huge new deposit is found in Chile or someplace? Whereas “Forever Wild” means good jobs forever, assuming we don’t destroy it bit by bit.

    • Phil Brown says:

      If nothing is found, they won’t mine Lot 8, and they will be required to restore the disturbed land and donate to the state as much land as was disturbed. If the wollastonite market vaporizes, then, I agree, there will be no reason to mine and the jobs will be lost. But that is speculative. What we know is that there is a market now and there has been a market for decades.

  10. Bill Ingersoll says:

    Since we have the incoming ADK president John Gilewicz on this thread insisting that ADK never considered Betty Little’s influence in its NYCO deliberations, as well as members of the press who are downplaying the threats that were made, here are the official minutes of the ADK conservation committee leading up to its vote.

    From the March 3, 2012 meeting. Note that Betty Little’s threat is more bluntly stated here, and that Neil Woodworth expresses doubts about NYCO in comparison to Perkins Clearing — in direct contrast to later statements.

    Enjoy:

    DISCUSSION ITEMS:

    NYCO and Township 40 (Caffry/Woodworth) To gain political support for funding the Finch Pruyn and Follensby land purchases, some DEC personnel have suggested that it may be necessary to resolve the Township 40 issue, where duplicate title exists around Raquette Lake. Regardless of the motive, it does make sense to clear up this long outstanding issue, which has been a hassle for both the state and the landowners.

    The other project that has been implicated involves NYCO, which operates a wollastonite mine adjacent to the Jay Mountain Wilderness in the town of Lewis. This company proposed a constitutional amendment in order to gain the forest preserve land contiguous with their mine, allowing them to continue excavating at their present site.

    There is no specific offer for either project currently on the table, but they are being raised again because if no legislative measure is enacted now, the next earliest date a constitutional amendment could be approved is 2015. Therefore DEC has suggested that politicians such as Senator Little may use Finch Pruyn purchase as a “hostage” to gain certain advantages.

    The NYCO proposal might come to ADK before the next committee meeting, so we need to discuss this one now. The problem with this proposal is that no specific amount of money or tract of land has been offered for exchange, and no one knows how deep the mineral deposit extends into state land. Therefore the proposed constitutional amendment would be open-ended about the forest preserve acreage involved, as well as what the compensation would be. One suggestion has been a two-stage transaction. The first stage would permit test boring on state land, to determine the extent and value of the mineral deposit. The same amendment would include provisions for a second stage, to allow the land exchange to occur based on the findings from the test bores. NYCO is motivated to act now, as opposed to moving to their Oak Hill site and coming back to Seventy Lane later, because if the current mine becomes inactive they will be required to begin the reclamation process. The company has already mined up to a 40-foot wall at the state land boundary, approximately 0.75 mile long.

    Covey: The mineral lens may well extend further into state land than currently believed, and if so this will result in a greater impact.

    Wemett: Is this a similar issue as Cathead Mountain, in which a private group was seeking a land exchange with the state? Woodworth: This is a commercial entity, so it is perhaps more similar to the Perkins Clearing land exchange between the state and International Paper. But in that case, NYS was as much a beneficiary as the paper company because it resolved an unworkable ownership pattern. That aspect makes Perkins Clearing distinguishable, since in the case of NYCO there would be no public benefit other than the money gained from the sale.

    Ingersoll: The Jay Mountain Wilderness Area is already the smallest wilderness in the Adirondacks at 7100 acres, and so even the transfer of a few acres would be a relatively big chunk of land. Also, the existing mine is highly visible from the surrounding summits, and an enlarged excavation site would result in an increased visual impact.

    Weinstein: Why are even discussing such a potentially damaging action, when we are generally opposed to other extractive operations (such as hydrofracking) on state land? Woodworth: The ADK Board of Directors requires us to discuss and vote on each individual proposed constitutional amendment as they arise. There is no blanket policy.

    Kunzler-Larmann: Is wollastonite mining always an open pit operation? Woodworth: In this case, the remaining mineral probably has a significant overburden above it, therefore expanding the mine would require a significant amount of excavation.

    Kuchar and Kerr expressed their disapproval of an amendment made primarily for private gain. Woodworth: The proposal is perhaps more motivated by DEC’s desire to get cooperation from Senator Little. NYCO may privately be more willing to back away from the proposal, realizing all the political hurdles involved.

    In regards to Township 40, because of the disputed title to certain shoreline parcels, limited development can currently occur around much of Raquette Lake. If the state quit its claim to these disputed parcels, it could result in significant build-out along Raquette Lake’s shoreline. This needs to be considered when determining the value of the state’s interests. It is unlikely that the occupants would be evicted even in cases where the state won the claim. Therefore would we be willing to accept conservation easements as a fair exchange?

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      And here are the full, official minutes from the May 5, 2012 ADK conservation committee meeting during which a vote was made to support the NYCO amendment. Betty Little’s threat is reiterated, ADK staff is concerned about protecting the club’s image, and it is disclosed that NYCO owns a little bit of land.

      ACTION ITEMS:

      Proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow NYCO Land Exchange (Woodworth) This proposed constitutional amendment would permit a two-phase land exchange in the Essex County town of Lewis. The first phase would allow a test bore to occur on state land, identified as Lot 8 of Stowers Survey in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. The result of this drilling would determine the extent of the wollastonite deposit and the value of the land. If the results were favorable it would trigger the second phase of the exchange, the full 200 acres of Lot 8 for another property of equal or greater value. If this second phase does not occur, then NYCO would still be required to exchange a land parcel equal or greater to what was disturbed by the test drilling. The test bore would be a vertical drilling from the surface of state land—horizontal drilling is not possible. The mining operation would require surface removal. DEC believes that approving this amendment could sway Sen. Little’s support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby acquisitions.

      NYCO does own land adjacent to the Jay Range that could be offered in exchange, which is a new piece of information that was not known during previous committee discussions. This land is located north of the mine, but it does not have frontage on Seventy Lane, the access road to the east side of the Jay Mountain Wilderness.

      ADK’s protocol is to require the club to take a position for or against any constitutional amendment affecting the Forest Preserve. In this case both the Conservation Committee and the Executive Committee will have a chance to veto the amendment before it passes to the Board of Directors in June. In Woodworth’s opinion, the proposal is worth backing because of the jobs that could be preserved as well as the addition to the Forest Preserve. This is a relatively small adjustment to the Forest Preserve in light of the pending acquisitions elsewhere.

      Ingersoll moved a resolution to oppose the proposal, but it was not seconded.

      Coward/Wadsworth moved to endorse the proposal. Coward was impressed by the new information and stated that we shouldn’t blindly oppose a reasonable proposal.

      Ingersoll objected to the resolution, stating that the amendment provided an insufficient public benefit. The facts of the proposed exchange are not materially different than the Thomas Gang proposal that the committee voted to oppose last year. In that case, a 3-to-1 land exchange at Cathead Mountain would have increased the size of the Forest Preserve, but the offered parcels were of not of sufficient value to warrant amending the constitution. Likewise, the parcels offered by NYCO would not enhance public access, nor do they contain any attractive features. While the acreage involved in this exchange might be small on a regional scale, it is quite significant locally, since the 7100-acre Jay Mountain Wilderness is the smallest wilderness in the Adirondack Park. The existing mine is highly visible from nearby Slip Mountain, and this proposal would expand that visual impact. Further, there are other mining companies elsewhere in the Adirondacks with operations adjacent to the Forest Preserve, for which this amendment could serve as a dangerous precedent. Would we, for instance, consider future amendments to allow Barton (another employer with mines and a processing plant in the Adirondack Park) to extract garnets from the surrounding Siamese Ponds Wilderness?

      Most committee members expressed support for the proposed amendment. Woodworth: Upon completion of the mining operation, NYCO would be legally required to reclaim and reforest the entire disturbed area anyway under existing regulations. This would apply to the current mine as well as any disturbance to Lot 8. NYCO has no record of DEC violations. Wollastonite appears to be easy to manage, and there is no sign of runoff. The existing mine has been in existence for about 11 years.

      Foskett: It is politically wise for ADK to appear sensitive to community needs. If jobs are terminated because the amendment is defeated, it could be blamed on environmental opposition. This could be a “tit for tat” situation where if we appear willing to be flexible, we may get something in return—namely, support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby projects.

      Wadsworth compared the NYCO amendment to the Piseco airport exchange, where ADK was willing to work with the local community. This project involved clearing a former portion of the Jessup River Wild Forest along the approach to the runway, allowing the airport to remain.

      Kerr: We do need to be concerned about how we are perceived.

      Prescott stated that he was originally opposed to this proposal at the last meeting, but based on the new information (i.e. that NYCO has land to offer in exchange) he is now in favor. We should not be concerned with future amendments, but consider only current ones based on individual merit.

      Kunzler-Larmann cautioned that there is no guarantee that a “tit for tat” will occur. This was a matter of speculation on the part of DEC, and not an assurance made by Sen. Little herself.

      Ingersoll: If it has taken NYCO an estimated 11 years to exhaust the supply of wollastonite in its existing mine, then we can assume that the proposed extension will have a lifespan of just a few years. Therefore the jobs being preserved are small in number and short in duration, and they could be preserved without this amendment if NYCO simply moves to its alternate site at Oak Hill. The visual impacts will be long-lasting however, since the planted forest will take decades to grow. The other successful amendments cited as precedents all had clear public benefits. The Perkins Clearing exchange with International Paper resolved an unworkable ownership pattern for both parties, and the Piseco Airport exchange allowed a municipal facility to continue operating. The current amendment, however, primarily benefits the private corporation, and supporting it would be inconsistent with prior committee positions.

      Dunn then called the question. The motion to endorse the proposed amendment was passed with 9 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstentions.

      • David says:

        I chose not to renew my membership and I urged my family to do the same. I felt let down as a member and I expressed it the best way I knew how. Its disapoing that the concervation groups are ineffective at protecting anything but jobs, mines, and redundant snowmobile trails.

      • Will Doolittle says:

        There is no threat. As “Kunzler-Larmann” says, all that is here is speculation on the part of DEC about what Betty Little might be thinking or doing. What is the impact of one party reporting what another party surmises about a third party? Not much. The more persuasive argument is made by a couple of people, about ADK being willing to compromise, and about ADK taking care as to how it is perceived in the Park. Both are good arguments, I think, and they carried the day in this case.

        • Bill Ingersoll says:

          And you are also free to believe that the sky is purple. It’s a wonderful country, isn’t it?

          But what we have here is ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth telling the committee members that something they want will be “held hostage” if ADK didn’t act in a certain way. If it was only idle gossip or hearsay, then what business did an executive director have in mentioning it during a committee discussion?

          However, these claims of a threat by Betty Little have never been covered by regional press. ADK President-elect John Gilewicz says this piece of information was never even mentioned when NYCO was discussed by the Executive Committee or the BoD. In fact, the only place I’ve ever heard it was from Neil Woodworth’s mouth. Therefore it raises at least two scenarios:

          1) Some media outlets have been so determined to portray NYCO as a consensus-building episode that they have been unwilling to discuss the motivations of any of the players involved.

          2) Neil Woodworth was manipulating the various ADK committees and the board to produce a favorable outcome.

  11. Will Doolittle says:

    I do appreciate your posting the minutes here, Bill. Thanks.

  12. Elsie Gutchess says:

    I have not read all the above comments. For about a decade I had a cabin near this area and have stayed a bit informed. I reside in Central NYS and had at least three (pre-recorded) phone calls “from our ex Governor urging my yes vote for passage of this bill” in the few weeks before the elections.
    I voted against it for several reasons.
    Thank you.

  13. Scott van Laer says:

    I am appalled to read John Gilewicz, ADK VP comments (or someone to claiming to be John, my apologies if this was a fraudulent poster).. As a resident of the Adirondacks I felt he disparaged all of us, speaking down to us as if we we were servants in his ADK playground. I reference the following quote…. “The people of the Adirondacks, who provide us shelter when we visit, food when we want it, pump our gas when we need it, and make sure we get to the Hospital when we must, keep a $6 Million payroll for another 10 years. That means they get to pay their mortgage, keep their car on the road, put their kids through college, and maybe save for their retirement. We cannot, in good conscience, ignore the reality of those living within the confines of the Park boundary.”

    Does he think we are toothless inbreds living on dirt floors? His tone implies this was some privilege given to the local barkeaters, allowing the exploitation of the Wilderness for local good. There was no fund created benefiting all residents like has long since been established in Alaska, paying all state residents a yearly dividend from the exploitation of their oil fields. This was a grab by a private corporation to plunder the the Forest Preserve. This action is why Article 14 was created in the first place. To think the Jay Wilderness was betrayed for only 1 million dollars is unconscionable! If the ADK is to be more than just a hiking club they need to place the Forest Preserve at a greater value. It is a priceless treasure for all New York residents. I hope they consider new leadership in their organization so they may transcend into a voice for environmental protection within the park. There needs to be a greater purpose for the preserve. In a world besieged by climate change our 3/6 million acres will take on greater global importance than ever before.

  14. Christine says:

    Mr. John Gilewicz, ADK VP,

    First there are a number of your comments which surprises me a lot such as for example:

    “The DEC has identified 6 parcels for acquisition, three of which are contiguous with the Jay Mountain Wilderness. These three areas total approximately 1,200 acres, and include several miles of streams and improved trail access to nearby Slip and Saddleback Mountains.”

    Are you sure about all of the above? Plus are those parcels all for sale at the moment as I have been told not all are presently owned by Nyco…

    “When NYCO is done mining, they are required to fill in the mine, and restore it with native vegetation.”

    Again are you sure about that as I have read local newspapers articles quoting Nyco’s regarding how the land will be restored and I understood it will be a large muddy bottom empty lake looking for ever after!

    “When my grandchildren are paddling on the newly acquired streams”

    You may have to wait for another Irene to be able to do so for a few hours…

    Second, as a rather “active” ADK member sitting as well on the Trail Committee even though I am far from a fool it’s for sure is nice to have you spell out so clearly that more often than not we are wasting our time, or did you misspoke?

    Third, your seemingly clueless-tourist vision of “life and issues” within the Adirondack Park I don’t think reflects the one of the membership at large, the ADK staff and, I believe of Neil Woodworth. I dare hope your words did not reflect exactly what you had intended to convey!

    It’s not my intention to abandon ship as the dedication of most of ADK staff and volunteers is extraordinary, they accomplish a lot with very little.

    So please Mr. Gilewicz make us proud to part of the team, if you are not sure or don’t want to tell us exactly what happened just say so.

    Respectfully,
    Christine Bourjade

  15. Christine says:

    Amazing that just today Jim Bailey’s petition to the US Board of Geographic Names to rename Slip Mountain was successful!It is now officially MacDonough Mountain:

    http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=132:3:1744162029569427::NO:3:P3_FID,P3_TITLE:965427%2CMacDonough%20Mountain

    Feature Detail Report for: MacDonough Mountain

    ID: 965427
    Name: MacDonough Mountain
    Class: Summit (Definitions)

    History: Named for Commodore Thomas MacDonough (1783-1825), whose naval victory on during the Battle of Lake Champlain effectively turned the War of 1812.
    Description: Located in Adirondack Park .and the Town of Lewis, in the Adirondack Mountains, 2.4 mi. S of Bluff Mountain, 2 mi. SE of Arnold Mountain
    Citation: U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Geographic Names Post Phase I Board/Staff Revisions.
    12-Dec-2013.
    Entry Date: 23-Jan-1980
    *Elevation: 3320/1012

    • Scott van Laer says:

      That is great timing! I am going to petition the APA to change the name of the mgmt area to the Wollastonite Wilderness.

    • Phil Brown says:

      Why was it changed? Seems unnecessary. If we must have yet another mountain named after a person, why not choose an unnamed one?

      • Christine says:

        Phil before instantly deeming the name change unnecessary read the following as I received Mr. Bailey permission to publish his account of the process:

        “I found the name MacDonough explained in Colvin’s 1874 Report probably mid 2012, but I saw it on early maps as far back as the 1985 Adirondack Museum exhibit, “History in the Mapping”. (They published a 72 page paperback of that title that year for $6.95 that might still be in stock) Colvin first put it on his map folded in the 1874-79 Report( that came out in 1879). Stoddard copied from Colvin. I’ve been collecting Adir. topo maps for years, successive editions. The 1953 Ausable quad is suddenly bursting with weird names where none were before…Bitch, Death, etc. Jennifer of USGS emailed me that they could find no field notes of the 1953 series for the Ausable Quad that first showed Slip.”

  16. Matt says:

    This discussion has made me reconsider my expired membership with ADK. Now I’m thinking a new membership is in order. I’m glad to see those steering the ship at ADK know how to take the long view. Bill: Please consider the well known “Forest for the trees” expression. John: Thanks for your response to Bill. We made the right call on Prop 5. Hopefully we can start to see some more meaningful dialogue on land bank strategies. A sustainable park model will depend on it.

    • David says:

      Let’s hope some actual conservation groups can step up and stop that.

      A sustainable park requires intelligent solutions not selling land that has been protected for generations.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      I understand the basic concept most proponents have of the measure. We are adding land to the FP, but don’t you think 1 million dollars was incredibly low amount for such a land grab? Secondly please explain the “Forest for the Trees” expression how it relates to this issue. Your last two sentences are quite interesting also…

  17. Christine says:

    In the early 1950’s ADK magazine CONSERVATION POLICY read: “We, the Adirondack Mountain Club, believe that the land of the state constituting the Forest Preserve should be kept as wild forest lands in accordance with Article XIV, section 1, of the New York State Constitution. We favor a program under the sole administrative jurisdiction of the New York State Conservation Department (…). We favor acquisition of additional forest lands for watershed and wildlife protection and for increasing recreational needs. We will support all measures consistent with this policy, and we will oppose all that are contrary thereto.”

    Then at some point in time it was changed and now reads: “The Adirondack Mountain Club is dedicated to the protection and responsible recreational use of the New York State Forest Preserve, and other parks, wild lands, and water vital to our members and chapters. The Club founded in 1922, is a member directed organisation committed to public service and stewardship. ADK employs a balanced approach to outdoor recreation, advocacy, environmental education, and natural resource conservation (…)”

    Just saying,and the last few months through the whole NYCO proposition debate I have been baffled as a number of supporters of the Jay Mountain Wilderness deal had not so long ago given a hard time to individuals and/or enterprises as they proposed housing development on private lands!
    Did they think of going to Google Earth and type: Slip Mountain, Lewis, NY, United States to have a look?

  18. David Pisaneschi says:

    Bill
    To set the record straight.
    ADK is a membership driven organization. It’s run by an Executive Committee and BOD comprised of members. ADK does not operate under the leadership of Neil Woodworth. Neil (along with the rest of the staff) are employees who report to the Executive Committee, BOD and since I’m the Conservation Committee Chair, me.

    There were no side deals regarding proposition 5. I was at the May 2012 conservation committee meeting. The decision to support was based on the facts. It was a 9 to 1 vote. The “tit for tat” was supposedly said by one of the other staff people, not Neil, in the context of gaining local support for the Finch Pruyn and Follensby projects, which never materialized. And it was not the first time that NYCO came before the committee. It was discussed in several previous meetings, even before 2012.

    As ADK’s Conservation Committee chair, I personally set the agenda, not the professional staff. ADK’s by laws require that my committee review proposed amendments to Article 14 and make recommendations to the Board accordingly. If ADK’s conservation committee ever thought that proposition 5 would seriously harm the forest preserve, our recommendation would have been to oppose it. More to the point, it would have never cleared the Assembly.

    This is as win-win situation. The forest preserve will be expanded and some 100 jobs paying an average of $60,000 will be saved. Once more, the 200 acres (more like about 50) will eventually be reclaimed and revert to the forest preserve. To put it in perspective, Essex County is about 1,200,000 acres in size and state already owns 670,000. I’ll let you do the math. Dick Booth, the most pro-wilderness APA commissioner, stated in the February issue of ADIRONDACK that the greatest threat to the Adirondacks is not environmental, but providing economic opportunities. As ADK’s Conservation Committee Chair, I get a lot of feedback. You are among only 3 people (not counting this chat line) who are upset over Proposition 5. The majority of ADKers have expressed their support. They’ve taken a rationale look at the facts. Let’s put this in perspective, it is a land exchange, not a giveaway. It’s not the first time. And the state usually makes out better. No more drama, please.

    ADK’s track record on conservation issues speaks for itself. Since I’ve been chair, we took the DEC to court to get float planes off Lows Lake, kept fracking out of state forests, parks, wildlife management areas, and other state lands ( it’s not even happening in NY at this point) , saved the land acquisition portion of the EPF where a previous governor’s budget proposed to zero it out, secured lasting protection for Allegany State Park, and more recently, negotiated a deal which will keep the Essex Chain motor free, essentially creating the park’s second canoe area, along with a 23,000 Hudson River Gorge Wilderness. We also secured the purchased of 65,000 acres of Finch lands for addition the forest preserve. Recall the local governments tried to get the state to back out of the deal. The Council and PROTECT deserve recognition regarding the former and latter respectively, to be fair. Before that, ADK advocated for state purchase of part of the Whitney tract and Champion lands, places which you have visited. Recall that we also stopped a proposed constitutional amendment in the Catskills which would have allowed the Hunter Mountain ski resort to expand all the way to the summit of Hunter Mountain. I’ve been involved in ADK’s conservation efforts for a LONG time and there’s no stauncher defender of the forest preserve than ADK. I’ll match ADK’s track record against anyone.

    Maybe your differences with ADK are that every once in a while, we try work with local governments on issues where we can find some common ground, for example the Essex Chain classification. That’s probably why you and other like minded people are being left out of the discussion. Regarding the Essex Chain, I was privy to the discussion. You don’t know how close we came to losing it.

    BTW – that’s really bush league to post the conservation committee minutes on a chat line. I thought that you had more class than that. But I guess not.

    David Pisaneschi
    Conservation Chair
    ADK

    • David says:

      I hate to argue with someone who can Gish gallop as well as you can but a track record is only as good as its most recent action. The track record you have just listed only shows that ADK has had a radical change in their moral compass.

      You didn’t win the Essex chain, you just didn’t loose as bad as you could have.

      I can garentee that float planes on a dammed lake full of alien species has very little enviromental impact compaired to a mine in a hundred year old forest.

      I don’t see the need for the disparaging remarks to Bill’s action, you have proven nothing and have only proven your class.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      What the heck is going on over at the ADK? He makes it sound like this was a lopsided vote rather than a close contentious debate.
      “If ADK’s conservation committee ever thought that proposition 5 would seriously harm the forest preserve, our recommendation would have been to oppose it. More to the point, it would have never cleared the Assembly.”
      Obviously you have non conservation minded people on the committee. How much discussion occurred about the operations impacts beyond the 200 acres. You put so much faith in the Assembly in environmental protection why not just fold up your whole organization?

      “You are among only 3 people (not counting this chat line) who are upset over Proposition 5.” You apparently only know 4 people.

      “ADK’s track record on conservation issues speaks for itself” Unfortunately this is a true statement.

    • dave says:

      “Chat line”

      In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya… you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • Will Doolittle says:

      Considering the minutes support your version of events, David, more than they do Bill’s, I think it was fair and right of him to publish them. What is wrong with some transparency in the operations of private groups that take a public role and influence public debates? I think it’s a great precedent, and should be standard practice.

  19. christine says:

    Mr. Pisaneschi:
    “You are among only 3 people (not counting this chat line) who are upset over Proposition 5.”

    Then why are you so upset?

    And this “I thought that you had more class than that.”

    Wow!

  20. zyxw says:

    “…and some 100 jobs paying an average of $60,000 will be saved.”

    Where does it say anything about jobs in the amendment that was passed? We are dependent on the word of NYCO and nothing more for that assurance. Sure, some jobs might be saved, but this amendment provides no such guarantees. I have no idea what NYCO is like as a company, but time and again these claims of “jobs saved” and “jobs created” have proven to be worthless. ADK too has laid off staff in recent years because of economic conditions. Despite all the best PR spin, “good jobs” are not something Prop. 5 was about.

  21. Adam says:

    Wow. The arrogance in the above post speaks volumes to the ADK mountain club further proves how out of touch they are. I could pick apart your above post but I really don’t need to, it speaks volumes all on its own.

    Oh, and whats a chat line? I think my granny had one of those on the old farm up on the hill. She had to wait for other people in the area to finish up their conversations before she could make a call.

  22. Bill Ingersoll says:

    A difference in opinion about NYCO & Prop 5 might look something like this:

    PERSON 1: “I think 1500 acres in exchange for Lot 8 is a good deal.”

    PERSON 2: “No, I think we should hold out for an even 2000 acres.”

    That’s a difference of opinion.

    My split with ADK this fall is the result of a difference in principles. I was a very active member of ADK for more than a decade. However, if a majority of ADKers really do believe that Proposition 5 was a good conservation move, then this is an organization filled with people with whom I no longer identify. If the club’s leadership plans to conduct more bargaining in the future, then its core values are unrecognizable to me. Either way, my relationship with ADK is concluded.

    At this point, the record shows a recent determination on the part of ADK to actively support the actions of local politicians like Betty Little. NYCO is one example, and the Essex Chain is another. ADK had already presented one proposal for a wilderness classification, which turned out not to be APA’s final recommendation. But rather than simply accepting the loss, ADK’s executive committee bypassed all of the other committees–the ones with grass roots membership–to negotiate the club’s position downward to fully buy into the state’s proposal. In other words, the state is influencing ADK’s actions, and not vice versa.

    In my opinion, an organization that bends over backwards to satisfy a local politician serves no useful purpose. If I want to support Betty Little’s vision for a browner Forest Preserve, then I can send my contributions directly to her campaign fund. I don’t need ADK to serve as my agent for that. I supported (past tense) ADK because I wanted to stand with an organization that represented my values. ADK is demonstrably no longer that organization; at this time I am not participating in any of the Adirondack conservation groups.

    I will never accept any logic that says we can cede a century-old portion of the Forest Preserve to a mine, get back a brownfield, and claim a conservation victory. And character prevents me from sitting idly by and keeping my mouth shut while it happens.