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Old 11-06-2013, 08:16 PM   #81
Bill I.
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Politicians and public officials need to negotiate more frequently because they're the ones most in the position to make things happen. One only needs to review the news to see what happens when such office holders become entrenched in ideological stances.

But organizations are not the decision makers, they are the advice givers and overseers. They exist to uphold a certain principle--an ideal like "wilderness preservation" that is important to many people but that would otherwise be overlooked in day-to-day public affairs. The people who support them expect such groups to stand for that cause. Imagine the uproar that would ensue if the NRA ever suggested that some gun control was okey-dokey, or if the ACLU conceded that some limitations on free speech were perfectly fine. Both organizations are EXPECTED to uphold an ideal to apply pressure on the people in office.

But there has to be an underlying principle involved, otherwise the organization exists only to give employment to political science majors who would be unemployable in the corporate world. If your principle is to compromise, then you are always going to be pulled in the direction of the less compromising.

Here we have Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, explaining this Brand New Age that we have begun:

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These wins for the people's Adirondack Park, for wilderness and communities, showcase the success of a new way of doing Adirondack conservation - the Adirondack Council way. Set principles, collaborate and work with diverse stakeholders to find common ground, work in coalitions and get results. No more "we would rather fight than win," personal attacks or tearing others down. When we're working together the people's Park wins. This new approach is part of the new strategic plan for the Adirondack Council, and the Council's new leadership. This new way of doing business will build us a better Park.
Key phrase at the end: "doing business." Since when is the Council doing business? What transactions do they have to conduct? Whose idea of a "better park" are they espousing, and what sacrifices are they willing to make to find this common ground?

I wholeheartedly agree that the "we would rather fight than win" mentality is counterproductive, but then again the Council and ADK have been just as guilty in that respect as anyone else. In recent memory, ADK has sued the state over as arcane a topic as the designation of Lows Lake, for instance.

When you have the skill to articulate your positions and your principles, then you don't need to result to personal attacks--the way I was threatened to have my name run through the Glens Falls newsprint mud the other night. Name-calling comes out of frustration, the need to win and to intimidate, instead of actually being right. If you can lay out your arguments coherently, then even the people who disagree with you can at least understand your reasoning. My own rules of thumb are never to make claims I can't substantiate, and to keep it about the ideas, not the personalities.

Principle leads to consistency, meaning that if you believe one thing in one situation, you will also believe it in all similar situations. Otherwise you're just kissing political butt, associating yourself with the winning side to gain little favors.

And the idea of consistency is what brings me back to Prop 5 and the Adirondack Mountain Club. The club has built a reputation over all the years I was active in it about such petty things as the allowable width of snowmobile trails, and whether the pro trail crew should ever contract to build one. The underlying conceit in all this attention to detail is the notion that every last acre of state land is worth fighting for; indeed, you come across the phrase "sanctity of the Forest Preserve" a lot when reviewing the history of Adirondack conservation.

Like others, I was shocked when the club took its pro-NYCO stance, even though I was present the day the conservation committee voted almost unanimously to support NYCO. At the prior meeting NYCO had just been a discussion item on the agenda, and there was plenty of outrage that a mine would even propose such a thing. The year before, we decided not to endorse the Thomas Gang swap at Cathead Mountain because we felt it was inappropriate to amend the constitution at the behest of a private interest. So when the NYCO issue came up for a vote in May 2012, I expected a lively debate concluding with the inevitable "no" decision. Instead, Neil Woodworth said he liked the idea because a show of support might convince Betty Little to stay out of the Essex Chain--and all opposition (except mine) melted away. One by one, everybody said they had come to the meeting with reservations, but now those reservations were gone. I was frankly caught off guard. I made every objection I could think of, but the best I could do was swing 2 abstentions (one of whom emailed me last week to say they had voted "no" on their absentee ballot). I have been miserable on the committee ever since, because the last thing I want to do is serve on a board that rubber-stamps what one person wants. I want to discuss the issues and have a chance to persuade, if possible.

As I said in my Almanack post in September, I can understand someone like Betty Little pushing for Prop 5, because doing so is consistent with her known goals and priorities. NYCO is inconsistent with ADK's goals as I understood them to be, because the underlying principle at stake is the degree to which each and every acre of the Forest Preserve has intrinsic value. The basis of ADK's argument was that Lot 8 is expendable because of its low recreational potential compared to its expected mineral wealth. Neil's hand-selected 1500 acres of potential new land is desirable precisely because of its higher recreational value and low mineral value. This is the new precedent, not just in the history of constitutional amendments, but in the conservation record of the Adirondack Mountain Club. Perkins Clearing is close, but I've seen maps from before the land exchange and agree that the original ownership pattern was a nightmare for all parties.

One of my most prized possessions is a map of Township 40 from 1900. It's a very well-made lithographed color sheet that was originally printed by the state as an illustration to accompany an official report. The interesting thing about this map is that it outlines a proposal to log the entire township--which was already part of the Forest Preserve and protected by the original Article VII, Section 7. The state's board of commissioners put in control of the preserve had spent taxpayer money to charter the National Forest Service to produce a written proposal to log the land, in contemplation of reversing the "forever wild" clause.

I found it in an art shop and had it framed; it now hangs near my bed so that I can see it every morning and every night. In addition to being a decorative piece (and an interesting topographic map) I keep it to remind me that nothing is a foregone conclusion, including "forever." The things we value need to be defended from time to time, and the villains can very well be the people put in charge of watching the store.

I joined ADK's conservation committee in 2003 to have a voice in how the preserve is managed and protected. I was 28 when I joined and felt very privileged to be included at the table with some very knowledgeable people. Barbara McMartin actually cautioned me not to do it; she too had been very active in ADK but became famously disillusioned in the 1980s. In the 10 years since I joined the committee, though, most of the knowledgeable people have gotten bored and left. Quitting is not something I like doing, but after mounting my own "Say No to NYCO" campaign--and spending my own dollars to do something I thought I had been supporting ADK to do on my behalf--I came to the realization that I have truly, genuinely lost my respect for ADK. I will now wait patiently for Neil Woodworth to retire, and see if his successor is any better. At the very least, someone who is not counsel, lobbyist, and executive director all at the same time will have much less influence over the boards and committees--and that might actually allow a freer exchange of ideas.

Let Betty Little worry about NYCO's jobs, and let ADK worry about the true value of the lands it wants so much to protect.

Last edited by Bill I.; 11-06-2013 at 11:43 PM..
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:37 PM   #82
WestCanaDaga
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OK.... you all are going to hate me, but Bills mention of Cathead Mountain, has caused me to finally (after two years of reading it) reply to a thread in the forum.
I grew up very near to Cathead Mt. and climbed it many times as a child, I first took my twin boys up Cathead when they were 4 years old. I was heartbroken when I took them back at 12 years old, and found access had been closed off. I am angry that I cannot now take my grandson there.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor do I generally believe in the "slippery slope" argument. I do not believe that the passage of prop 5 will lead to the trashing of the park.
I would very much like to see the land swap for Cathead mountain worked out, and if memory serves me, that swap, on the whole, would benefit the people too.
I dare say that I love the park as much as any other at this forum. I grew up here, had to move away to western NY to "make a living", and am thrilled to have moved back now.
OK....rant over. I'll sit back, read on, and keep my mouth shut again.....for a while.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:31 AM   #83
Justin
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I thought this was supposed to help create more jobs, not less.

https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/s...ine-sheds-jobs
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Old 10-28-2018, 10:23 AM   #84
montcalm
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NYS residents duped again by "clever" marketing.
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:12 AM   #85
TCD
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Yes, it's unfortunate that the company was bought by a large foreign firm that chose to eliminate local jobs. A lot of people in many industries have been through that, and it sucks (look at all the outfits that moved jobs to Mexico after NAFTA).

But I don't think there's any relationship between the constitutional amendment and the job loss. I think the job loss would have happened as a result of the foreign acquisition regardless of the status of Lot 8. Lot 8 only offered a chance to prevent this, not a guarantee.

Also, I don't think NYS residents as a whole have been "duped" in any way. (It's important to READ the amendment, rather than reacting to what people tell you it says.) The final section of the amendment says:

"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. nevertheless 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."

In much of the marketing that opposed the amendment, this section was commonly (and conveniently) left out. But this section of the amendment protects NY State. So if the Explorer is correct, and the company has in fact "abandoned" the Lot 8 project, then this portion of the amendment is in force, and the State should enforce it promptly, and require remediation of Lot 8, and also require lands in exchange for the disturbed area. If that doesn't happen, and NYS residents don't get what they are due, the blame would lie with Albany for not enforcing this provision.
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:46 AM   #86
Justin
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Agreed. Even though I voted against it and didn’t have much faith that it would work out I was hopeful for a much more positive outcome than this. Hopefully we all can use this as a reminder if & when there’s a next time. Let’s keep Forever Wild forever wild!
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:59 AM   #87
montcalm
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Yeah TCD, I read the amendment, I know what they are required to do, but the fact still remains they disturbed "sacred" ground. As Justin says, let's keep "forever wild", forever - not just when it's convenient.
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Old 10-28-2018, 02:37 PM   #88
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I haven't been following the issue since 2013, when I voted against the amendment. Was the "trade" actually made in the following years, or did the lands NYS was supposed to acquire in exchange remain in private hands? I wasn't sure from reading the article, but it sounded to me like they did testing on what was still state land and then didn't make the swap, but I may have gotten the wrong end of the stick.
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Old 10-28-2018, 05:26 PM   #89
TCD
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That's generally correct. NYCO did the testing, as allowed by the amendment. The new owners of the company have not pursued further activity on the parcel, so the primary land swap that would occur in the event of Lot 8 going to the company has not occurred.

Of course the Explorer material is always a blend of fact and opinion. (The article is intended to provide a background that land swaps like this, and in fact any flexibility by the state, are always a bad thing.) But if their use of the word "abandoned" is to be believed, then it appears the company and the state will not be carrying out that primary swap.

However, the later language in the amendment still requires another, secondary swap to take place, exchanging lands "of greater or equal value" than the area disturbed by the testing to the state. If in fact the company has decided not to pursue the primary swap, the state should be pressing them to conclude the business by remediating the site, and carrying out the secondary swap.

Of course I would not expect anything to happen soon on this. It's election season, and everyone in Albany is busy with that right now. And once that's over, they will still be busy trying to clean up the disastrous implementation of the High Peaks UMP amendment. So my guess is you are looking at a couple years before anyone pays attention to this.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:07 PM   #90
Justin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post

..the later language in the amendment still requires another, secondary swap to take place, exchanging lands "of greater or equal value" than the area disturbed by the testing to the state. If in fact the company has decided not to pursue the primary swap, the state should be pressing them to conclude the business by remediating the site, and carrying out the secondary swap.
If you actually ever believed this was a possibility to happen in the first place then yes you have been duped into voting against the “Forever Wild” clause in the New York State Constitution.

Last edited by Justin; 10-28-2018 at 07:35 PM..
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Old 10-28-2018, 08:36 PM   #91
TCD
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Justin, this is crystal clear in the written amendment (at least to us non-attorneys). If the state does not close this out as written, then they are breaking the law, and should be sued. I'm not usually a big fan of "green group lawsuits against the state" as most are frivolous. But this is one that is solid, and I would support it.
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Old 10-29-2018, 08:18 AM   #92
aft paddle
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[QUOTE=TCD;271402]

However, the later language in the amendment still requires another, secondary swap to take place, exchanging lands "of greater or equal value" than the area disturbed by the testing to the state. If in fact the company has decided not to pursue the primary swap, the state should be pressing them to conclude the business by remediating the site, and carrying out the secondary swap.

How much land would this secondary swap involve and how much requires remediation?
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Old 10-29-2018, 11:54 AM   #93
TCD
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I'm not sure of the exact area that was disturbed by the test boring. The total area of Lot 8 is about 200 acres. The test boring was to proceed in 3 phases, but after phase 1 and 2 back in 2015 the company determined they had enough information and did not go through with phase 3. In total, there were ten test boring sites.

If I had to estimate, I would say about 5% of the 200 acres were disturbed, based on: A 20' wide road to each of ten test sites; and an average road length of 1500' (halfway across the parcel).

So my guess is that there are maybe 10 acres that need remediation, and for which the state should get lands "of equal or greater value." Maybe there are 20 acres? I really am not sure.

So it's pretty small potatoes in the end, but I would like to see the state wrap this up, and issue a report.
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:29 AM   #94
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It would also be interesting to know what it cost the state to put the amendment on the ballot, and get the word out about it, and if the general fund covered these costs, and nothing came of it, this needs to be factored into any future similar proposed endeavor.
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:59 AM   #95
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It would also be interesting to know what it cost the state to put the amendment on the ballot, and get the word out about it, and if the general fund covered these costs, and nothing came of it, this needs to be factored into any future similar proposed endeavor.
I bet the state spent next to nothing to put the amendment on the ballot, at least compared to what they spend/waste on any number of other efforts that ultimately go nowhere.

I wonder how much money federal and state wildlife agencies spend defending against lawsuits from any number of advocacy groups (to include some here in NY)....I promise you that figure is much higher.
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