The Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled Wednesday that state tree cutting to build a network of wide class II community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve violated Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution. The Appellate Division, Third Department, reversed a lower court ruling issued in 2017.
Protect the Adirondacks had challenged the constitutionality of cutting more than 25,000 trees to build over 27 miles of new snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve. The lawsuit was started in 2013, injunctions against further tree cutting were ordered in 2016, and a bench trial was held at State Supreme Court in 2017. » Continue Reading.
It’s not every day that one gets to see a well-worn aphorism ring true. The philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In the Adirondacks this is now playing out at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area.
The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) manages this area for a variety of winter Olympic sports – cross-country skiing, biathlon, bobsled, and luge, among others. It’s also a popular cross-country ski area for the public, and starting in 2018 it became the staging area for a new trail to Cascade Mountain, where the public can start hiking in a safe parking area. The facility is located partly on land owned by the Town of North Elba Park District and partly on the State Forest Preserve. The Forest Preserve lands are protected as forever wild by Article XIV of the State Constitution. » Continue Reading.
Jack articulates well what many of us baby boomers are feeling as we take up a ski, paddle, hike, or bike with younger friends and colleagues. We think we are reasonably fit, but how to keep up? Especially, as Jack wondered, on the uphill sections? » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve says it will ask members of the New York State Legislature to impose a deadline for future mineral sampling and mining at Lot 8 in Lewis, a 200-acre portion of the NYS Forest Preserve’s Jay Mountain Wilderness.
The constitutional amendment allowing the mining company NYCO Minerals to collect mineral samples in advance of mining a portion of the Jay Mountain Wilderness, in exchange for land elsewhere, passed the NYS Legislature and was narrowly approved (53%-47%) by voters in 2013. » Continue Reading.
News of a helicopter sightseeing tour operating out of Lake Placid spawned much discussion this past summer. Unlike a traditional scenic airplane flight high above the landscape, this business promised ridge-running flights at low altitudes above protected Wilderness Areas, as well as aerial safaris in which backcountry wildlife would be buzzed in their natural habitats — all for the thrill of a few paying customers.
This was scary enough for those of us who routinely visit the Forest Preserve for our weekly dose of wildness. But then in the September/October 2017 issue of the Adirondack Explorer, John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council suggested that in the Wild Forest areas, “it may be appropriate to fly in some places at lower heights” — with the stipulation that “some sensitive areas” should be avoided “as much as they can.” » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Park local government officials and conservation organizations both spent a nervous few hours after the polls closed on Election Day this year, worrying that Proposal Three – the community health and safety land bank – would be defeated. It passed by a slim 52 percent to 47 percent margin (about 100,000 votes out of 3.1 million cast).
As Adirondackers from across the political spectrum look towards working together in 2018 and beyond, there are important lessons to learn from this close vote. The park’s continued success depends on our understanding the state’s voters. » Continue Reading.
On Tuesday, November 7th, New Yorkers have an opportunity to vote on Ballot Proposition 1: whether the State will hold a constitutional convention in 2019. Many of my colleagues in the Adirondack environmental world are urging a “No” vote. Anticipating that such a convention would be heavily influenced by moneyed special interests, they are concerned with possible threats to the legendary “Forever Wild” constitutional amendment that protects the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves. They reason correctly that Forever Wild, being the gold standard in wilderness protection, cannot be improved, only weakened, and they don’t want to see State take that risk.
I share my friends’ concern about Forever Wild and I agree with their basic argument, but I do not join them in urging a “No” vote. My political DNA is too deeply imbued with grassroots, democratic activism for me to oppose this opportunity for the people of New York to directly act on the condition of their government. I also recognize that simply convening a constitutional convention does not expose the welfare to the Adirondack Park to unfettered abuse by special interests who would exploit it. No matter the goings on among the delegates to the convention, the people of New York will have the final say in the process, by virtue of their vote on any amendments in November of 2019.
This November’s election may be an off-year, but it’s an important one for New Yorkers. The ballot will include the question of whether to hold a convention to make changes to the New York State Constitution, a chance that comes along once every twenty years.
New York State residents with ties to the Adirondacks should be conflicted: on the one hand, their state constitution is in desperate need of revision — punctuated by a string of corruption convictions against state leaders in recent years. The changes needed to fix this problem aren’t likely to come from lawmakers themselves through constitutional amendment.
But while taking back control of our constitution seems a desirable goal, opening the potential for harm to Article 14, which includes the forever-wild clause protecting the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills, is a proposition scarier to some than politicians lining their pockets with public money. » Continue Reading.
Every two decades, New Yorkers go to the polls to decide whether they want to rewrite the language in their state constitution. Historically, they take a pass on this opportunity — in more than a century, only three constitutional conventions have been called by the voters, the most recent in 1967. And even in that year, the same voters who called for the convention decided they didn’t like the result and rejected the changes proposed by the convention’s delegates.
But if last year’s presidential elections and the rise of a self-styled populist to power were reflective of anything, it was that much of the electorate is irritated with business as usual and might be willing to take chances in the name of draining the swamp. » Continue Reading.
The 2017 New York State Legislative session ended on June 21st as both houses adjourned and left Albany. It remains unclear at this time if the two houses will return to complete unfinished business. The two houses were deadlocked over issues of “Mayoral Control” of New York City schools and extensions for local taxation districts across the state. Both of these issues are important for New York City and state residents and may require further action.
There was unfinished business for the Adirondacks as well. The two houses were close to reaching an agreement in the last hours of the session on enabling legislation for the proposed “Health and Safety Land Accounts” amendment to Article XIV, Section 1, the “forever wild” provision of the State Constitution. This amendment would provide access to 250 acres of Forest Preserve lands for maintenance of local highways in the Adirondacks bordered by Forest Preserve, and lands for municipal water wells, as well as authorize burial and colocation of utility lines and bike paths in state and local highway corridors. The “enabling legislation” sets in law the process for the implementation and administration of the amendment. » Continue Reading.
As this year’s legislative session winds down, more public attention is focused on November’s vote whether or not convene a state constitutional convention in Albany.
As Article XIV – the “forever wild” clause – is of particular relevance to both the Adirondack and Catskill Park regions, I offer the following resolution approved by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve this spring. » Continue Reading.
One project hyped in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget announcements early in 2017 was a zip line that would run in three stages from near the summit at Whiteface Mountain, near where the gondola brings passengers, to the base of the mountain. This was proposed as a way for Whiteface to rival zip lines at other ski areas in the northeast U.S. that were trying to expand summer tourism and resort operations.
Philip Terrie’s commentary is the third of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention. The first commentaries, by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie, can be found here.
In the American political climate of 2017, is it really a good idea for people to insist that they can accurately predict the future? Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst appear to think it is. They claim that a constitutional convention (concon) will not diminish the authority of the provision in our current constitution – Article 14, Section 1 – stipulating that the state Forest Preserve be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” Their argument advances the case one hears circulating all around the state these days, as we gear up for the vote in November, 2017, when New Yorkers will vote yes or no on this simple question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” If this passes, delegate elections will he held in 2018, and the concon will sit in 2019. A vote on a new constitution would probably be held in November, 2019.
Along with a committee of the New York Bar Association, the League of Women Voters, and other prominent organizations, Galie and Bopst, duly noting both the culture of corruption in Albany and the labyrinthine and antiquated nature of much of what we have now, ask us to approve a concon and seek to convince those of us who have spent a good part of our lives defending the forever-wild provision that nothing bad can happen. Count me as unconvinced. » Continue Reading.
What follows is the second of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention. This is part two of a commentary by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie. An essay opposing a convention by Adirondack historian Philip Terrie will run on Sunday afternoon.
Part I of this two-part article discussed the history of the forever wild provision since its adoption by the Constitutional Convention of 1894. The absolute nature of the prohibition has made it the most amended section of the New York State Constitution (Peter J. Galie & Christopher Bopst, The New York State Constitution, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 312). Despite the number of amendments to the provision during the last 120 years, most of the forest preserve has retained its wilderness character, and the preserve has expanded significantly since it was first created. The preserve has functioned both as a success story and a point of pride that New Yorkers can take in their state constitution. » Continue Reading.
What follows is the first of three essays about the vote coming this November on whether New York State will hold a Constitutional Convention. This first commentary in support is by Christopher Bopst and Peter Galie. Part two of Bopst and Galie’s essay will run Sunday morning, followed by an essay opposing a convention by Adirondack historian Philip Terrie on Sunday afternoon.
On November 7, 2017, New Yorkers will be asked whether they want to convene the state’s tenth constitutional convention, to consider amendments and revisions to the state’s 120-year old constitution. The question, which is automatically placed on the ballot every 20 years (N.Y. Const., art. XIX, sec. 2), causes considerable angst among those concerned a convention may jeopardize protections currently enshrined in the constitution, such as the beloved forever wild provision. The first part of this article will provide a brief history of the forever wild provision, and in particular how this provision has been treated at state constitutional conventions. The second part of the article will discuss how and why the provision has remained over one hundred years after its adoption a viable and vital part of our constitutional tradition while other constitutional prohibitions have not. The viability and vitality of the provision augur well for the likelihood that it will retain its significance should a convention be called in 2017. » Continue Reading.
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