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November 4, 2013

Proposition 5 asks voters for state land swap

LEWIS — A statewide vote on Tuesday will determine whether New Yorkers will sell 200 acres of state land to a longtime Adirondack mining company.

Proposition 5 looks to amend the State Constitution to convey a piece of the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals for not less than $1 million.

The Willsboro-based company has proposed exchanging that state land, called Lot 8, for 1,500 acres it owns of forestland around Jay Mountain.

A thick vein of wollastonite runs from NYCO’s Lewis mine pit directly onto Lot 8. And NYCO geologists expect some 50 acres of the uncommon, fibrous ore is hidden beneath the forest there, gauging its marketable value at $1 million.

“If (wollastonite is) present in the expected quantities, NYCO would provide New York state with forest lands worth $1 million or more, adding at least 1,500 acres to the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” the company said in its proposal. “Moreover NYCO would eventually return the original 200 acres, fully reclaimed, to New York state’s ownership.”

LAND SWAP

Terms of the land exchange have been in geological, administrative and legislative review for more than five years.

Proposition 5 emerged successful through two rounds of State Legislature, passing both the Assembly and Senate this year and last.

Voter approval statewide is required to finalize any transference of state park lands.

PROS AND CONS

Two Adirondack-based environmental groups, Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild, have raised concerns about the proposal, lobbying state voters to reject the land exchange with NYCO.

Other green groups, including the Adirondack Mountain Club and the Adirondack Council, support the measure for its economic balance.

Support also comes from a substantial list of state lawmakers, unions, former Adirondack Park Agency commissioners, business and economic-development councils, town and county officials. On Friday, the New York Times published an opinion piece supporting Proposition 5.

IMPORTANT TO LEWIS

Local lawmakers see Proposition 5 as something larger than an exchange of land.

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