Proposition 5 good for Adirondack environment and economy

To the editor:

On Election Day, New York voters can help protect 100 North Country jobs and add 1,500 acres of forestland to the Adirondack Forest Preserve at no cost to taxpayers.

Proposition 5 authorizes the state to trade 200 acres of Forest Preserve land in Essex County to NYCO Minerals, a longtime Adirondack business that operates a wollastonite mine right next door. Gaining access to the wollastonite on the 200 acres will help NYCO extend the life of its Adirondack operations and more than 100 jobs by eight to 10 years.

The state has agreed to provide this land in exchange for 1,500 acres of prime recreational lands that will be added to the Forest Preserve. Topping it all off, when NYCO completes its work on the 200 acres, it will reclaim the mine and donate the land back to the state.

The benefits are many. That’s why Proposition 5 has support from local governments, business organizations, labor unions and leading environmental groups. The few special-interest groups that oppose this win-win proposition make four claims that I’d like to address:

This is not a precedent-setting vote to begin gutting the Forest Preserve. Any proposal to remove land from the Preserve must be approved by our state Legislature and then by voters statewide. Each proposal is judged on the merits of its specific circumstances and benefits. The circumstances and benefits of Proposition 5 are worthy of saying yes.

The 200 acres is not old-growth forest. This has been documented by scientists from the state and the Adirondack Council. In fact, the Council’s analysis shows the 1,500 acres are of far greater ecological and recreational value.

NYCO does have access to another wollastonite supply in the area, but the mineral there is buried far more deeply and would require far greater expense to remove, threatening NYCO’s ability to remain competitive. And that supply will only last so long. Why not help this local business stay in the Adirondacks even longer by making this trade?

Voters know exactly what they’re getting. The legislation requires NYCO to provide a minimum of $1 million in land in exchange for the 200 acres. NYCO and the state have agreed on the 1,500 acres. It’s land that the state has long sought for the Preserve, and you can read all the details at

There is every reason to vote yes on Proposition 5.

Garry Douglas

President and CEO

North Country Chamber of Commerce