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Pataki helps get out the vote for Prop 4

Legislative Gazette
November 4, 2013

By Kelly Fay

Former Gov. George Pataki has joined with environmental advocacy groups in support of proposition four, an amendment to the state Constitution that will be presented to voters Tuesday. During the weekend before the election, Pataki along with the New York League of Conservation Voters, reached out to nearly 300,000 voters through an automated phone call, informing voters of the benefits of the proposal.

"If approved, [proposition] four will add 300 acres of new 'Forever Wild' public forest land to the Adirondack Park, at no cost to taxpayers," Pataki said in the call. "By voting yes, you will be preserving the environment and supporting New York's tourist industry."

Proposition four is among six amendments to the state Constitution up for vote on Tuesday. It would amend Article 14 of the state Constitution, which prohibits the sale or exchange of land on the Adirondack Forest Preserve. If passed, proposition four would allow the exchange of land by settling ownership disputes between residents of the town of Long Lake and the preserve. The state would give up its claim to the disputed pieces of land in exchange for funding which would be used to purchase parcels of land determined to provide a greater benefit to the state. Estimates project the land to be added to the preserve would total roughly 300 acres.

Former Gov. George Pataki is urging state voters to approve proposition four, an amendment to the constitution to allow for land exchange inolving the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

According to the League of Conservation Voters, settling the ownership dispute would allow "200 families, a public elementary school, volunteer firehouse and local marina to feel secure in their homes and property without the constant threat of a lawsuit hanging over them."

The voter outreach group is also mobilizing New Yorkers through voter identification calls, get out the vote and Election Day text messaging and a mobile smart phone site which details the amendment and its impact.

Endorsing the amendment is Pataki's latest preservation venture. Throughout his administration, Pataki helped preserve more than one million acres of land, including the addition of over a quarter-million acres through an agreement with the National Paper Company. The 2004 agreement was among the few times Article 14 has been amended and allowed for the exchange of preserve land.

Additionally, Pataki has endorsed proposition five, which would also amend Article 14 of the Constitution. In exchange for the opportunity to expand a wollastonite mine onto 200 acres of the forest preserve, NYCO minerals would give the state land worth no less than $1 million.

"This is a good deal for everyone: For NYCO employees, the temporary use of the state land would enable the company to extend the life of its business and protect their jobs. For the people of New York, 1,500 acres of pristine forests and streams are opened to the public. For Adirondack schools and local governments, the transfer would result in greater property tax revenue," Pataki said in an op-ed piece for The Journal News.

The land exchange outlined in proposal four has received widespread support from environmental groups including the Open Space Institute, Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks and National Resources Defense Council.

However, groups are more divided when it comes to the fifth proposed amendment. The Sierra Club, Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks have agreed proposal five would set a dangerous precedent of selling the preserve and worry about the long-term impact the mine would have on Lot 8. Those in opposition of the exchange are also concerned because the legislation does not specifically outline the acreage that would be received by the state.

Other environmental groups including the Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Council support the exchange saying it would save valuable jobs in a struggling economy, and open acreage with important recreational value to the preserve.

Both proposition four and five have passed in the Senate and Assembly for two consecutive terms, and will now been turned over to New York voters for a decision

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