The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has released various draft materials that describe how they plan to implement and manage the Constitutional Amendment that authorized “mineral exploration” and possible sale of Forest Preserve lands. These actions seek to implement the Constitutional Amendment narrowly passed last November for 200 acres, known as Lewis Lot 8, on the eastern edge of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.
A public comment periods run until June 2nd. Public comments can be submitted here or sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The APA has determined that its best course of action is to amend the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the 200 acres on Lot 8. The Constitutional Amendment authorized a two-step process whereby NYCO first undertakes a “mineral exploration” phase. This involves road building and 22 test drilling sites. If NYCO determines that the tests show a high level of wollastonite, the ore it mines, then the Amendment authorizes that the state can sell up to 200 acres to NYCO based on a price approved by the Legislature.
The UMP Amendment to the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area authorizes various non-conforming activities within a designated Wilderness area on the Forest Preserve on Lot 8. This course of action by the APA raises a number of issues.
Below, please find talking points for letters to the APA:
1. The APA contends that it can amend a UMP for a Wilderness Area to include a variety of activities that are prohibited in Wilderness areas under the State Land Master Plan (SLMP), such as road building, drilling, extensive tree cutting, use of chemicals, operation of motor vehicles, among other things. PROTECT’s legal analysis does not find that the SLMP is voided by a Constitutional Amendment. Tell the APA that the Constitutional Amendment does not nullify the State Land Master Plan Wilderness Area management guidelines.
2. In order to undertake activities such as road building, tree cutting, drilling, use of motor vehicles, and use of chemicals in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, the APA must first amend the State Land Master Plan for lands exempted from “forever wild” Constitutional protections and requirements of the SLMP. Tell the APA that it cannot authorize these activities in the UMP Amendment unless it first revises the State Land Master Plan.
3. The APA contends that the Constitutional Amendment “implicitly” exempts all mineral exploration activities on Lewis Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. PROTECT believes that a series of existing state laws must be obeyed, including the NYS Wetlands Act, the State Land Master Plan, and Mine Lands Reclamation Act. Tell the APA that it must obey all state laws.
4. APA has provided inaccurate information, which denies old growth forest conditions on Lot 8, and grossly under counts the number of vernal pools and intermittent streams. Tell the APA that it must first gather accurate field data on the Lot 8 ecosystem before it can proceed.
5. The APA and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the management of state lands. The MOU details a process and schedule for UMP Amendments. The APA and DEC argue that Constitutional Amendments somehow void existing APA-DEC policies. Tell APA that they must obey the APA-DEC process and timetables for UMP Amendments detailed in the APA-DEC MOU.
6. The DEC has proposed a draft Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) that details a formal work plan for how the drilling, road building, tree cutting, and use of chemicals and motor vehicles for mineral exploration will be undertaken and managed. The work plan fails to adequately analyze existing biological conditions of Lot 8. Tell the APA that the DEC TRP and work plan are incomplete and must include better analysis of biological conditions and impacts.
7. There is time to do this right because, for its part, NYCO has embarked upon a massive expansion of its Lewis Mine. At the same time that the DEC and APA are taking public comments on a plan to allow NYCO to undertake “mineral sampling” in the Forest Preserve west of its Lewis Mine, the APA and DEC are reviewing a new permit application (2013-138) by NYCO to expand its mining operation in another direction. NYCO seeks to expand its mining operations from 90 acres to 132 acres, the largest single increase ever sought since NYCO has been regulated by the APA. NYCO seeks a 46% expansion of its 90-acre open pit mine in a southeast direction. Tell the APA that it should slow down this decision and gather the necessary information and required ecological assessments.
NYCO seeks authority to begin this work as soon as possible. The APA plans to act on this UMP Amendment at its June meeting.
Submit public comments by June 2nd:
P.O. Box 99
1133 NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Fax: (518) 891-3938
Additional Background Materials
See a thorough and comprehensive letter submitted for PROTECT and a coalition of groups by Earthjustice that details the many problems with how the APA and DEC seek to implement this Constitutional Amendment.