The Adirondack experiment works

The January/February Adirondack Explorer carries a letter by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward concerning Protect the Adirondacks’ opposition to a constitutional amendment that would permit NYCO to mine a deposit of wollastonite currently under Forest Preserve lands. She cites Protect’s position as evidence that the Adirondack experiment that tries to sustain communities while preserving wilderness has failed.

We write as directors of Protect and as full-time Adirondack residents who welcome further discussion of these issues. We believe that NYCO has not presented enough information to determine if a land swap would provide substantial gain to the local communities, benefit the public Forest Preserve, and cause no significant environmental harm. We also believe that the high “forever wild” barrier Article 14 of the state constitution erects for land swaps shows that the experiment has succeeded. Sayward claims to value the beauty of this special place. It is the high threshold set by the constitution that preserves the beauty of the Park and prevents it from being carved up, exploited, and overrun.

Protecting the Adirondack wilderness may restrain some economic activity. Yet, Adirondack communities benefit from a robust tourist industry that Article 14 facilitates. It is untrue that protection of the environment is the principal cause of the decline of Adirondack communities. Many small towns in the United States suffer from isolation, the mechanization of industries, international competition, and the urbanization of our economy. In fact, the economies of many Adirondack communities compare favorably with small towns just outside of the Blue Line.

Finally, we take strong exception to Sayward’s repetition of the canard that environmentalists are outsiders interested only in their own agenda. We live here. We care about our communities and have invested ourselves in their welfare by volunteering in community organizations. We spend our incomes here and help sustain local merchants. Sayward seems to think that because we care about wilderness we are forever outsiders and can be treated as second-class citizens. That makes us sad and angry.

Kenneth Strike, Thendara
Lorraine Duvall, Keene

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