One of the statewide propositions New Yorkers will decide next week concerns a land swap deal in a town that you may have never heard of. But as our Barry Wygel explains, advocates on both sides of the issue are working hard to try and inform voters.
LEWIS, N.Y. -- Buried deep in the Adirondack State Park is the mining company NYCO. The company is looking to secure its future by obtaining drilling rights to the land adjacent to its existing mine. But the land is protected by the Forever Wild clause of the New York State Constitution...and any development there faces a tough approval process.
"The Constitution does allow exchange of those lands, should it pass two separate legislatures, and then after it passes those legislatures, it has to go to a popular vote of the people," said Mark Buckley, manager of environmental health, safety and quality at NYCO Minerals.
To entice voters, NYCO has offered land it currently owns in exchange for the 200 acres it wants to develop, about 50 acres of which would be clear cut for the new mine.
"The benefits to the State of New York, they are going to obtain, for instance, a mile of the North Branch of the Boquet River here, it's a trout stream," said Buckley.
Under the terms of the deal, the state would get 1,500 acres of land to do whatever it wants with, but opponents say that's not worth having the company clear cut 50 acres of land.
"It's not like we are creating new land. The land in exchange exists now and isn't threatened," said Roger Downs, conservation director of The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
Opponents also say allowing the company to develop lands that were classified "forever wild" sets a dangerous precedent.
"If this measure gets approved, then there will be more pressure on our forever wild lands and we will lose something very valuable within our constitution," said Downs.
NYCO says that overall this is a highly beneficial transaction for the State of New York, saying even the land they would clear cut would have to be filled in and replanted when they are done with it.