Monday, August 3, 2015

Complaint: DEC Illegally Lobbied For Company Mining Wilderness Area

NYCO's open pit mine as seen from Bald Peak in 2013Protect the Adirondacks conducted an investigation into the role of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in support of the 2013 Constitutional Amendment to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company in Essex County, to undertake mining activities and obtain 200 acres of “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands.

The investigation started in early 2014 and used hundreds of documents from the DEC and Board of Elections obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. PROTECT’s investigation found what the group is calling “a startling and illegal commitment of DEC’s staff time and resources to support NYCO’s bid to buy Forest Preserve lands.”

Protect the Adirondacks has submitted a Complaint over these actions to New York’s Attorney General, State Comptroller, State Inspector General, and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. A copy of the Complaint and 120 Exhibits is available on the Protect the Adirondacks’ website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“A constitutional amendment is vastly different from other kinds of legislation,” says a statement announcing the complaint that was sent to the press.  “The courts have repeatedly ruled that “partisan activities” by State agencies, including activities of the sort at issue here, violate Article VII, Section 8(1) of the Constitution, prohibiting gifts or loans of State monies to or in aid of any private undertaking. The fact that the public must vote on a proposed Constitutional Amendment requires that state agencies must be neutral actors and provide only technical information, impartially and without any bias, favoritism or advocacy for a particular position.”

“New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation worked for two years as a de facto private lobbyist for NYCO Minerals, Inc., to help them explore and buy 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands for open pit mining,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. “On NYCO’s behalf, dozens of DEC staff drafted and revised legislation, lobbied numerous legislators, lobbied environmental groups, business associations, and unions to support the NYCO amendment, developed lobbying materials, assisted NYCO during the general election with its Vote Yes campaign, and even intervened with the Board of Elections to change state ballot language for NYCO’s benefit.”

In November 2013, New Yorkers voted 53 to 47% to pass a Constitutional Amendment to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., to expand its open pit mine in Essex County onto 200 acres of the “forever wild” Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks.  It was the most closely contested of the 15 Constitutional Amendments passed for the Forest Preserve since the 1940s and the first to permit the “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands to be taken for the sole benefit of a private corporation.

“DEC’s active support for NYCO in the run-up to the 2013 election is deeply troubling. To see a state agency assist one side with campaign materials in a public referendum, help them formulate their arguments and then get the Board of Elections to change ballot language after NYCO complained raises serious questions,” said Charles Clusen, Chair of Protect the Adirondacks.

Protect the Adirondacks believes that the DEC violated Article VII, Section 8(1) of the State Constitution when it acted as a lobbyist for NYCO Minerals in 2011-2103. NYCO and DEC had hundreds of meetings, phone calls, and emails during this time. DEC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in staff time to lobby on NYCO’s behalf the organization says, adding:

“DEC’s help for this mining company consisted of dozens of DEC staff who worked with NYCO to craft an amendment it believed would pass a public vote. DEC lawyers drafted and revised the draft Constitutional Amendment numerous times. DEC and NYCO worked together to lobby legislators and strategize for how to pass the draft amendment. DEC worked aggressively to line up support from environmental organizations and business lobbyists. DEC pressured some organizations opposed to the amendment to change their positions to support and others that opposed to back down and take no position.”

Under the State Constitution, a draft amendment must be passed by two separately elected Legislatures and then the electorate must approve it. The NYCO amendment received first passage in 2012 and second passage in 2013 and was approved by voters in the 2013 election.

According to Protect, DEC developed “Fact Sheets,” “Talking Points,” and a “Position Paper” in support of NYCO in widely distributed lobbying materials. DEC staff counseled the mining company on which legislators to lobby and what to say and published a “Vote Yes” article in support of NYCO. DEC staff advised NYCO to line up support from politicians and unions.

“DEC’s support for NYCO was vast and unprecedented. This kind of work is usually undertaken by members of the State Legislature, legislative staff, or hired lobbyists. DEC’s commitment of time and personnel resources to lobby on behalf of a private corporation was extraordinary,” said Charles Clusen.

After the second passage of the NYCO Amendment in the State Legislature in June 2013, DEC continued to assist NYCO during the public debate before the November 2013 election Protect’s complaint says. The complaint accuses DEC of sharing materials for NYCO’s public relations campaign and guiding NYCO on refuting arguments by opponents. When NYCO objected to ballot language approved by the Board of Elections in July 2013, the complaint says, DEC successfully intervened to change the language in August to make it more favorable to NYCO.

Article XIV, section 1, the “forever wild” clause, was written into the New York Constitution and approved by voters in 1894.

NYCO-Map-1As Protect the Adirondacks was gathering information about the actions of the DEC in 2014, a process the organization says was delayed by denials and appeals of denials of Freedom of Information requests, state agencies awarded NYCO Minerals permits for exploratory drilling on the 200 acres of Forest Preserve in question. NYCO built roads, more than two dozen drilling sites, and cut hundreds of trees in a forest that had remained undeveloped for more than 125 years.

Under the terms of the NYCO Amendment, the DEC and NYCO must agree upon an appraisal and price for these Forest Preserve lands, which must be approved by the State Legislature. Protect the Adirondacks is calling on the Legislature not to proceed with the legislation until an investigation is completed. If an investigation finds that the DEC acted inappropriately, the sale of lands to NYCO should not be permitted the group says.

“Four Constitutional Amendments for the Forest Preserve have been passed by New Yorkers since 2007, making this period this most intensive in state history. The Department of Environmental Conservation and state leaders are currently preparing at least two new Constitutional Amendments. It’s important that the Department of Environmental Conservation reform its involvement and become a neutral actor henceforth in all Article XIV amendments,” said Peter Bauer.

Photos, from above: NYCO’s existing open pit mine as seen from Bald Peak in 2013 (courtesy David Gibson); two of the access corridors recently cut in the Jay Mountain Wilderness (photos by Phil Brown); a map of the existing mines (provided by Protect). 

Related Stories


Editorial Staff

Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our Editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




56 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    If this was illegal activity why was the DEC so open about it? They show a 5 page letter that Marten’s sent to the head of the Adirondack Council asking them to drop their opposition to the amendment (which they did). That wasn’t a confidential letter. The head of the council was free to tell anyone that he got it and show them the content.

    This may not be right but if it was illegal it seems like it would not have been do so much in the open. He would have called not written a letter.

    The argument here for the DEC is that it is their responsibility to protect the Forest Preserve and here they are making it larger. That is probably why they are not ashamed to “lobby” for that? Marten’s describes the benefit to the FP in that letter to the council. He mentions the job thing also but that is just mentioned as a possible plus. It was clear his focus was on the FP.

  2. Wished they’d filed this lawsuit before the referendum.

    • Paul says:

      They certainly could have if they wanted to. The DEC had made their position and support for the deal very clear. And they were doing this in the open. It looks like some of this information was purposely made publicly available well ahead of the vote. For example their “exhibit 20” is a 19 page “DEC position paper” where the department clearly lays out their entire rational for and in support of the deal.

      This position paper was mentioned by several groups well in advance of the vote. But the legislature and the voters were free to take any position that they wanted. This was only information.

      It was fair to keep some of the internal negotiations private. For example the DEC made it clear that not only would we want more Forest Preserve land but that we also wanted this land back for reclamation. Again that is just doing their job and getting as much as they could for the taxpayers and the state.

  3. Lakechamplain says:

    The main point is that the DEC was taking a position that seems at odds with its central core purpose, and despite the letter Paul refers to, this was very much hush, hush at the time, mainly, it would seem because the Adirondack Council, and other environmental groups for that matter, didn’t want to appear to abandon their core principles and also might have worried, justifiably, that some or many of their membership might offer opinions to their leadership that disagreed with the DEC.

    If the agency pushing this agenda had been, let’s say, the Dept. of Economic Deveopment, it would be more understandable because they would be supporting the maintaining of, and growth of, jobs for the region. But there is an element of sneakiness in this whole process that is disturbing. Why didn’t the DEC take a public stand, for example sponsoring media ads supporting the passage of the amendment? And frankly, it also reeks of the politically driven style of Gov. Cuomo, who constantly seems to stand for or be neutral on an issue like this yet behind the scenes is a driving force. And please don’t tell me that the DEC would have taken the stand it did if they weren’t given approval to do so by the governor.

    The whole process which this fine article exposes is that the people of New York State, especially those who are concerned about the seemingly constant erosion of decades-old protections for the Adirondacks, need be worried that the DEC might have a hidden agenda beyond its title which includes the words ‘Environmental Conservation’.

    • Paul says:

      I didn’t have time to look at all the documents I just checked out a few. One was the 19 page public “position” statement. The other was the five page letter sent by Marten’s to the head of the Adirondack Council asking explaining the position and asking the council to drop their opposition to the amendment. Again, not a confidential wink-wink nudge-nudge letter but one that the council could have put in the paper the next day. It is clear they were working to get this on the ballot and passed but since much of it was public I doubt it is illegal. Again their central core purpose is to protect the environment as best they can. The logic that expanding the forest preserve along with reclamation of what we would be losing (temporarily) in exchange for that seems to fit their mission. This is a very small deal in comparison to other exchanges (ski areas, highways, etc.) so I don’t see any erosion here either?

  4. Colvin says:

    This small extremist never compromise group which nobody listens to anymore was twice unsuccessful in stopping the legislature from approving the amendment, then failed in their attempt to have it rejected by the voters, and then lost in a ridiculous suit to have a court overturn constitutionally authorized exploratory drilling. Now they whine some more. This amendment will result in 1500 acres of land (if not more) coming into the Forest Preserve in exchange for 200 acres. The real story here is that Protect objects to an expansion of the Forest Preserve that will result in more than 7 times the acreage of land coming into the Forest Preserve than will be going out of the Preserve.

    • Paul says:

      And reclamation of the land we had to use to get the other land. One thing clear from these documents is that the DEC was insistent on that point. Seems to make them look pretty good with respect to holding firm on that term.

    • mike says:

      The real story is that it is high season for fund raising for the advocacy groups. This ‘complaint’ is just the sort of thing they do in July/August. There is nothing to it legally – DEC is smarter than that. They tried some other thing, cougars I think, in July. This is their August gambit. Tell the world all is terrible, don’t trust anyone except Protect! Or don’t trust anyone except Wild. Of course, they don’t trust each other. This stuff is more like protecting their income than anything else.

      It is all a sadly predictable pattern.

  5. Charlie S says:

    “New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation worked for two years as a de facto private lobbyist for NYCO Minerals, Inc….”

    Why should this surprise anyone? The DEC is just another extension of our puppet government who we all know by now favor the people who have money. They blow it in our faces every day how much our leaders bend over backwards for the rich….and we do nothing about it! Worse…we keep voting them in.We deserve what we get! Of course not all of us deserve and certainly the ecosystems that are affected by government policies do not deserve!

    I recall me sharing my distrust of the DEC on this very site a year or so ago and how at least one of you put up a defense for them. I mentioned how the DEC granted the oil and gas industry premature access to highly controversial draft regulations for hydrofracking in New York State. What does that say about them?

    In today’s Times Union there’s a story on page 4 about how the ultra-conservative billionaire Charles Koch warns “America is ‘done for’ if the conservative donors and politicians don’t rally others to their cause of demanding a smaller,less intrusive government.” Wouldn’t that be convenient!

    What they really mean is they want less government and more corporate control. They want no regulations at all so that they can rape and pillage every last inch of this planet at the expense of all things else…of the water,the air we breathe. Ah heck,let’s face it…human life means nothing to these bastards. Is why up to a million innocent Iraqi’s (there I go again!) lost their lives when america (sic) tried to get to one man.

    Our corporate leaders have us fighting each other while the people who pull their strings sit back and laugh. We fight each other because we have different values. Some of us like trees while others see more value in the stock market. There is depth there is shallowness! If we can just un-dumb a sizable chunk of the American populace we just might be able to keep the puppets from messing with our Constitutional Amendments State and Federal. We could have put NYCO Minerals in their place.

  6. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “The DEC had made their position and support for the deal very clear. And they were doing this in the open.”

    Yes,and just imagine what they did behind closed doors Paul. Read my missive above.

  7. Charlie S says:

    Pauls says: “Again that is just doing their job and getting as much as they could for the taxpayers and the state.”

    I like your humor Paul!

  8. Charlie S says:

    Paul! You always always seem to err on the side of big business,or positions that go against the preservation of my beloved Adirondacks. Never are you neutral always are you defensive of those who might do harm to that paradise. That conservative streak is so glaring in what you write. Which is ok…am just being observant is all.

    • Paul says:

      Think what you wish Charlie. On this particular issue I make it pretty clear that I side with those who want to increase the size of the Forest Preserve (and yours and my “beloved” adirondacks) which is exactly what this deal did. I don’t really care at all about what the mining company got. They are “borrowing” about 100 acres from us and giving us maybe as much as 1500 or more acres of protected land and the giving us back what they borrowed.

  9. Charlie S says:

    Colvin says: “This amendment will result in 1500 acres of land (if not more) coming into the Forest Preserve in exchange for 200 acres.”

    Yeah but those 200 acres have value too Colvin and those 1500 acres were a dangling carrot is how I see it. It was something to throw off voters so that NYCO could continue their destruction of that parcel of land that they have been decimating for however long now.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie you are just buying into this rhetoric that this is a bad deal. It is what it is. There is no dangling. The company is legally required to give us these additional acres to add to the forest preserve. Let’s check back in 5 years and see if this was a bad deal.

      • John Warren John Warren says:

        “The company is legally required to give us these additional acres to add to the forest preserve.”

        No, it is not.

  10. Woody says:

    The Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Mountain Club permanently lost my support as a result of NYCO. A “conservation” group that supports strip mining a wilderness has forfeited its right to exist. The NYT version of this article shows how the council was bullied into backing Prop 5. They should have showed some backbone and stood up with what they knew was right, instead of bowing to the will of King Andrew Cuomo.

    The way the Safe Act was bulldozed through the legislature simply by the will of King Andrew, so too was NYCO bulldozed through the amendment process.

  11. Colvin says:

    Charlie S says “I recall me sharing my distrust of the DEC on this very site a year or so ago and how at least one of you put up a defense for them. I mentioned how the DEC granted the oil and gas industry premature access to highly controversial draft regulations for hydrofracking in New York State. What does that say about them?”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t DEC ultimately BAN hydrofracking in New York State, and isn’t NYS the only state to ban hydrofracking to date? What does THAT say about them?

    Charlie S also says: “but those 200 acres have value too Colvin and those 1500 acres were a dangling carrot is how I see it. It was something to throw off voters so that NYCO could continue their destruction of that parcel of land that they have been decimating for however long now.”

    No question that those 200 acres of land have value. But if somebody asks me would you rather protect 1500 acres or 200 acres, that seems like a no-brainer. You seem to assume that if the NYCO amendment hadn’t been approved by the voters then those 1500 acres would nonetheless remain undeveloped. There is no basis for any such assumption.

    Woody says: “The way the Safe Act was bulldozed through the legislature simply by the will of King Andrew, so too was NYCO bulldozed through the amendment process.”

    Actually, the process for adopting the amendment was a long, drawn out process, including passage by the legislature once, then passage by the legislature a second time after a general election, and then approval by the voters at a second general election. It took two years. In contrast, the SAFE Act sailed through the legislature in a couple days. I don’t see how the two can be compared.

    Protect was well aware as to what was going on during this two year period.
    The problem wasn’t that the NYCO amendment was being “bulldozed” through the process; the problem was that Protect’s arguments in opposition to the amendment weren’t compelling enough to defeat it.

  12. Lakechamplain says:

    This is the link to the New York Times article that I think adds to what was posted here and in a way better explains how the DEC was an active advocate for NYCO in many ways, including the wording of the amendment itself and then using its considerable influence to try to get Adirondack environmental groups to support the amendment.
    The ensuing vote by NY voters, most of whom didn’t really understand what the amendment did, was 53% to 47% in favor. This relatively close vote I believe was won I believe due to the fact that the Adirondack Mt. Club in particular was ‘on board’. The picture on the first page of the article here speaks volumes. Is this the first of other ‘trade offs’ that the DEC will be a part of. I personally hope not. If you care about this issue please take a few minutes to read this article.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/03/nyregion/documents-reveal-new-york-state-agencys-role-in-adirondacks-mining-proposal.html?hpw&rref=nyregion&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

  13. Now will the state simply slough off the complaint or will they take it seriously as it should. This should never have happened. It was in direct violation of very precise wording in the constitution prohibiting exactly what they did. And the way it was presented to the voters was a lie. They presented it as a land swap which may never take place if NYCO doesn’t find what it wants. All it really did was permit NYCO to explore Forever Wild forest in hopes of finding valuable minerals. Corruption pure and simple.

  14. FWIW The amendment did NOT trade 1500 acres of land for 200 which will eventually be returned after being strip-mined. The amendment permitted NYCO to explore the 200 acres to see if they wanted to ‘lease’ the land and mine it. IF NYCO found what they hoped to find and IF they decide to go ahead with the plan and IF they decide the land is worth to them as much as they projected the forest preserve COULD get 1500 acres in exchange. That was never a done deal, just a projection of how things could go IF NYCO was happy with the results of the exploratory drilling. The campaign to the legislature and the public was a snow job to convince them that they should support a direct violation of the Forever Wild clause of the Constitution. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. The DEC’s role in promoting that is shameful and ethically wrong.

  15. Colvin says:

    A amendment to the forever wild clause is not a “direct violation” of the forever wild clause. Authorizing the mine to move forward without such an amendment would have been a violation of the forever wild clause.

    If NYCO decides to not move forward with the land exchange, then the land at issue stays in the forest preserve and NYCO has to provide the state with land that is equal to or greater than the value of the land disturbed by the exploratory drilling. What is wrong with that? You neglected to mention that important fact. Seems like the Forest Preserve benefits whether NYCO moves forward with the deal or not. It is strange that a person who opposes the land exchange is complaining about a provision that allows the land exchange to not happen…

    Whether the amendment passed by 1 vote or 1 million votes is Irrelevant. But you should check on the vote in 1894 when the forever wild clause was first approved by the voters. You will find that the margin of approval wasn’t much different from the margin in the NYCO amendment. Should we denigrate the forever wild clause because it didn’t pass by an overwhelming margin? Should we denigrate Obama’s election because he didn’t win with 60 per cent of the vote? Of course not. It is called majority rules.

    • Lakechamplain says:

      Colvin,
      You’re sidestepping the whole point of the objections to the role the DEC played. It was all about the amendment that would allow the ‘forever wild’ clause to be gotten around. And that’s why, as explained in the NY Times article, to have DEC actively lobbying in the legislature to get the amendment written and passed, right down to the wording in the amendment, is such a violation of the good faith that the people of NY place, or should I say placed, in the Department of Environmental Conservation. Most legislators, like most voters, didn’t really understand the intricacies of the whole deal. The DEC and NYCO played on this, presenting it simplistically as a land swap that after all would create jobs. The whole process was filled with classic political deceit and still causes me and others to feel betrayed by the DEC.

      • Paul says:

        You are not “getting around” the clause. The amendment amends the constitution. There is no way to get around it. It has to be changed hence the legislative votes and the ballot vote.

  16. Hawthorn says:

    Don’t forget the false claims about saving jobs. There’s not one word in the amendment that says anything about jobs, yet that’s the argument that got everyone pushing the amendment. It is sad that Forever Wild was pushed aside using misleading information and a pr campaign. It appears to be a very fragile concept in this era where money rules all political discourse.

  17. jBruce says:

    I’m ambivalent about land swaps, but it seems it is standard practice, even at the federal level. The US Forest Service does this all the time to obtain prime forest land in trade for parcels which may or may not really fit into their mission. 200 acres where a mine already exists seems fair to add 1500 acres to the Forest Preserve, making the trade a net gain. However the trade came about, the voters were consulted and apparently have spoken.

    Those with an axe to grind routinely use arguments suggesting hanky panky when something of this nature goes contrary to their beliefs. Do we call it redistricting or gerrymandering? Both terms mean the same thing, but one has a connotation of skullduggery. Depends if you’re the winner or the loser.

    Was this a non-binding referendum, or an actual constitutional amendment vote? Apparently, detractors of the trade had a fair chance, but as these things go they won’t give it up and move on.

  18. Tom Payne says:

    Why so upset? Little seemed to matter about the law last week and the NYSDEC illegal road closures.

    • Lakechamplain says:

      I find it interesting that Martens made the road closure decision as he was walking out the door at DEC. The same Martens that shepherded the whole NYCO affair from his lofty perch. I’ll bet that he would try to show this as an example that he didn’t favor one side or another in these types of matters but sought ‘balance’. I think it had much more to do with the fact that he knew this suit was coming, not to mention that the NY Times was working on an article about the role DEC played in the NYCO amendment, and that he had a bit of a guilty conscience now that the whole story of his role in this was coming out.

  19. john jongen says:

    The lesson to be learned here is to NEVER. NEVER, NEVER give corporate predators an inch when it comes to protecting the environment and our climate. The fracking ban was not ‘won’ by the DEC, as someone here tried to imply, it was won by the people of NY who used their ‘home rule’ trump card to boot Chesapeake’s fracking rigs out of NY.

  20. The Cuomo administration was stretching the bounds of legality? I’m shocked at this accusation. SHOCKED!

    • Lakechamplain says:

      Yeah, rather a classic example of the political methods of our beloved governor. Appearances: our protector and lover of the Adirondacks serving us in Albany. Behind the scenes but never seen: If not Cuomo himself then certainly his advisors having frequent contact with the honchos at DEC letting them know their support in passing this amendment would be ‘appreciated’. Gee, I wonder if NYCO ended up or continued to contribute to the Governor’s reelection fund?

  21. Colvin says:

    Mr. Jongen: Many communities banned hydrofracking, but many others didn’t. DEC’s ban applies to the entire State, including those communities that wanted fracking. And it applies to those communities who have banned it but might change their mind in the future. It is disingenuous to not give DEC credit.

    I read the amendment before I voted and was persuaded by the land swap language and my understanding from the amendment that it would result in several times more land coming into the Preserve than would be leaving it. It is unfortunate that those who are complaining about the amendment do not seem to appreciate the value of protecting the land that will come into the Preserve. If the amendment does happen to protect jobs, so much the better, but that is secondary in my mind. I wish we could protect both the 1500 acres and the 200 acres, but that is not the world we live in. Thus, I am satisfied with the approval of the constitutional amendment by the voters of the State of New York.

  22. Hawthorn says:

    The 1500 acres aren’t guaranteed. NYCO gets to explore and wreck the 200 first and then gets to decide if they will mine it. Only then would they have to compensate the people of New York by possibly giving us the 1500. Or, they could decide to forget about it and eliminate the jobs. They are supposed to reclaim the land disturbed. It is prospecting–not a guarantee of anything.

    • Hawthorn says:

      For more information on the fiction that this sleazy deal adds 1500 acres to the Forest Preserve read more in this past article and see the text of the amendment below (sorry for the caps, that’s the way the Senate does it): http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2013/12/nyco-amendment-fact-fiction.html

      EXCHANGE THEREFOR, NYCO MINERALS, INC. SHALL CONVEY TO THE STATE FOR
      INCORPORATION INTO THE FOREST PRESERVE NOT LESS THAN THE SAME NUMBER OF
      ACRES OF LAND, ON CONDITION THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL DETERMINE THAT
      THE LANDS TO BE RECEIVED BY THE STATE ARE EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN THE
      VALUE OF THE LAND TO BE CONVEYED BY THE STATE AND ON CONDITION THAT THE
      ASSESSED VALUE OF THE LAND TO BE CONVEYED TO THE STATE SHALL TOTAL NOT
      LESS THAN ONE MILLION DOLLARS. WHEN NYCO MINERALS, INC. TERMINATES ALL
      MINING OPERATIONS ON SUCH LOT 8 IT SHALL REMEDIATE THE SITE AND CONVEY
      TITLE TO SUCH LOT BACK TO THE STATE OF NEW YORK FOR INCLUSION IN THE
      FOREST PRESERVE. IN THE EVENT THAT LOT 8 IS NOT CONVEYED TO NYCO
      MINERALS, INC. PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH, NYCO MINERALS, INC. NEVER-
      THELESS SHALL CONVEY TO THE STATE FOR INCORPORATION INTO THE FOREST
      PRESERVE NOT LESS THAN THE SAME NUMBER OF ACRES OF LAND THAT IS
      DISTURBED BY ANY MINERAL SAMPLING OPERATIONS CONDUCTED ON SAID LOT 8
      PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH ON CONDITION THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL
      DETERMINE THAT THE LANDS TO BE RECEIVED BY THE STATE ARE EQUAL TO OR
      GREATER THAN THE VALUE OF THE LANDS DISTURBED BY THE MINERAL SAMPLING
      OPERATIONS.

  23. Colvin says:

    Hawthorn–thank you for posting the amendment. It says in the following words that if the deal does not go through the state will be compensated acre for acre for the acreage that is disturbed by NYCO during exploratory drilling:

    IN THE EVENT THAT LOT 8 IS NOT CONVEYED TO NYCO MINERALS, INC. PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH, NYCO MINERALS, INC. NEVER-
    THELESS SHALL CONVEY TO THE STATE FOR INCORPORATION INTO THE FOREST PRESERVE NOT LESS THAN THE SAME NUMBER OF ACRES OF LAND THAT IS DISTURBED BY ANY MINERAL SAMPLING OPERATIONS CONDUCTED ON SAID LOT 8 PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH ON CONDITION THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL DETERMINE THAT THE LANDS TO BE RECEIVED BY THE STATE ARE EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN THE VALUE OF THE LANDS DISTURBED BY THE MINERAL SAMPLING OPERATIONS.

    And it is my understanding that DEC is tightly controlling exploratory drilling through a permit and that under this permit nowhere near 200 acres will be disturbed. DEC apparently put this permit out for public comment: http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20140402_not5.html

    And, according to the amendment, If the deal does go through, the State will receive at least $1 million worth of property in exchange–possibly more (but never less) depending on what the appraisals show. This is because $1 million dollars buys approximately 1500 acres of land in the Adirondacks. If the appraisal for Lot 8 comes in at $2 million, then the State should receive about 3,000 acres in exchange.

    Please tell me what part of this is “fiction.”

    • Paul says:

      The exploratory drilling is done. They ended up disturbing even less land than they had originally anticipated. I hope the state is careful to be directly involved in the appraisal of what they found. Let’s not take NYCOs word on that.

    • Hawthorn says:

      The legislature will decide the value of property conveyed to the Forest Preserve–in other words, elected politicians will be appraising whatever land NYCO has available. NYCO has already proven adept at swaying the DEC, and they don’t accept campaign contributions! By the way, does anyone have any idea what lands NYCO owns that it might trade in the end?

  24. Charlie S says:

    Colvin says: “Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t DEC ultimately BAN hydrofracking in New York State, and isn’t NYS the only state to ban hydrofracking to date? What does THAT say about them?”

    >> I would wager a years pay that if there wouldn’t have been all of those loud voices from so many people that were against fracking in New York State they most likely would have allowed it Colvin. Cuomo was ready to cave to the gas people from the start….you could feel it in him! Many of us were quite surprised about the decision not to allow fracking in New York.
    What it says about the DEC is they did what was right after all of the letters and e-mails and raised voices that most surely put them on edge in deciding who to kiss up to….the citizens of New York or the gas industry.The people won for a change but not without a fight and a ton of energy spent! It pays to protest. At least it did in this case.

    “You seem to assume that if the NYCO amendment hadn’t been approved by the voters then those 1500 acres would nonetheless remain undeveloped. There is no basis for any such assumption.

    >> The only thing I assume regards this matter Colvin is that a corporation was able to succeed in changing a Constitutional Amendment so as to continue turning a parcel of the Adirondacks into one big ugly pit.

  25. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Think what you wish Charlie. On this particular issue I make it pretty clear that I side with those who want to increase the size of the Forest Preserve…”

    >> So we agree on destroying one area so as to gain a larger area somewhere else in the park. It just seems like bribery to me Paul.

  26. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Charlie you are just buying into this rhetoric that this is a bad deal.”

    I don’t buy into rhetoric Paul I think for myself and from the start this “deal” has smelled fishy to me.

  27. Charlie S says:

    Colvin says: “It is called majority rules.”

    When you look at what the majority of this society is all about Colvin,look at it from a mind with a sense of lucidity about it,you will come to the realization of how frightful that statement is.

  28. Charlie S says:

    Hawthorn says: “It appears to be a very fragile concept in this era where money rules all political discourse.”

    It makes you wonder why more people don’t step up to the plate and say “I’ve had enough!” hey Hawthorn? Maybe if more of our toys were taken away there’d be more dissent. Maybe if they started taking away our television’s! You’d surely see some riots then. They wouldn’t dare take away our televisions as they are the perfect tools for dumbing down.

  29. ADKerDon says:

    The comments regarding the legal action, approved by the state legislators, shows just how socialistic the environmentalists are. It also shows the need to amend Article XIV to restrict the forest preserve to those lands above 3,000 feet elevation so jobs, recreation, tourism, etc. can have a place here in the Adirondacks.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      You mean socialistic like public highways and public schools? Or are you thinking socialistic like public fire departments and police?

      Perhaps socialistic doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    • Hawthorn says:

      I think he means “socialistic” like those of us who believe the interests of the people who own the Forest Preserve, the citizens of New York State, should take precedence over the interests of a for-profit corporation that just wants to use the land for their own gain. Or, maybe it’s “socialistic” like the millions of us that recreate, visit, and spend money in the area because of the Forest Preserve and don’t have the slightest intention of visiting a mine.

  30. Bruce says:

    Hawthorn, where are these “millions” of folks, or are you talking over a significant amount of time? There are some 132,000 year round residents, with about 200,000 seasonals, most of whom are there in July and August. With “millions” spending money, the Adirondack Park should be a booming place, yet we keep talking about ways to boost low level economies, especially in winter.

    Oh, and many of the shops, restaurants and places to stay are closed 8 to 10 months of the year. That doesn’t say a lot for the “local” end of the economy. One person alluded to the money spent by locals on big ticket items in another discussion…except for their homes, how much of that big ticket money is actually spent inside the Blue Line?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adirondack_Park

    • Hawthorn says:

      “About 7-10 million tourists visit the Adirondack park every year, while only about five million people travel to view the Grand Canyon annually.” Quote from Adirondack Museum website.

      • Paul says:

        That is just a hole in the ground. The Adirondacks are much cooler!

      • Bruce says:

        Hawthorn, I stand corrected on the numbers. I realize the numbers I quoted were residents, both full and seasonal.

        The remainder of what I said about Adirondack economies is still true, however. Visitors aren’t doing much for the off-season economies of the region. We do our bit, as we enjoy the Adirondacks more during the late off-season (last 2 weeks in June), because we don’t like crowds.

        • Hawthorn says:

          “Visitors aren’t doing much for the off-season economies of the region.”

          I suspect that “visitors” account for a very large percentage of the regional economy, summer or winter. Whiteface and Gore Mt. ski areas alone bring in something like $22 million in revenue, not including the money spent by skiers on lodging, food, gas, etc. Sure, snowmobiling contributes a lot to the winter economy, but there are other sources of winter revenue that can be attributed to “visitors.” There’s ORDA and its many events, the ADK mountain club, Lake George has stuff going on all winter. The number of snowmobile registrations has been on a steady decline for years–best not to put all your eggs in one basket.

          • Bruce says:

            As I said before, we like coming up before the season starts, and we can see with our own eyes where the money is being spent. The Tupper Lake, Saranac, Lake Placid area looks pretty prosperous in the off season, compared to the Fulton Chain, Indian Lake, Long Lake, or Blue Mtn. Lake area, which were still pretty darn slow, with many businesses closed or on limited hours until July, or after Labor Day.

            Lake Placid, Whiteface, Gore Mtn., Saranac, etc., does not represent the Adirondack economy as a whole, except indirectly through state taxes. I just read the Saranac Lake Sears store is closing or has closed. That says something about the amount of money flowing through the region.