We hope you’ll join us in flipping over your ballot on Election Day and voting YES on Prop 3.
New York State has always taken forest preservation very seriously. As a matter of fact, environmentalists, New York Residents, and government officials have taken preserving forests so seriously that over 3 million acres of land in the Adirondacks and Catskills have been set aside as untouchable wilderness in the 122 years since the enactment of the Forever Wild clause in 1895.
As a result of the Forever Wild Clause, which has allowed preserved forest land in New York to flourish for more than a century, the Adirondacks and Catskills have exceptional scenic, recreational, and ecological value. However, the stringent rules that residents living near protected lands must follow have disadvantaged those communities. The only way to improve critical infrastructure is to go to voters statewide and ask for approval. In the past 25 years, this has had to happen six times. In an intricate quilt of public and private land, residents and towns have found that they are unable to complete many development projects in a reasonable timeframe because of this burden.
When a community needs to carry out any improvement project that involves Forest Preserve land, the process of amending the constitution to allow a community to swap a parcel out of the Forest Preserve for a new parcel of land takes 3 years. It requires two consecutive Legislatures to pass the same resolution to amend the State Constitution, then goes to the state’s voters for approval. This inefficient process hinders these communities’ ability to quickly complete projects such as replacing dangerous curves on roads, implementing bicycle lanes, drilling new drinking wells, or laying critical utility lines.
When voters across New York State flip over their ballots on November 7, they will see Proposal Three, The Community Health and Safety Land Bank Amendment. Proposal three provides some wiggle room for residents burdened by the Forever Wild clause by changing the way basic infrastructure projects are approved.
Proposal three would make it easier and less bureaucratic for towns and villages to make needed health and safety improvements, specifically small projects where there is no alternative to using state land. The proposed amendment will create a land bank with up to 250 acres of forest preserve eligible for use as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, resulting in no net-land loss.
Before land is removed, however, replacement land to cover the full 250 acres must be approved by the Legislature. Importantly, large and complicated land swaps will continue to require a constitutional amendment, including permission from New York State voters.
NYLCV and a coalition of environmentalists and elected officials are standing by Proposal 3 and in support of the benefits it will provide for residents in Forever Wild lands. By allowing community improvement projects in these towns and villages while subsequently adding to the Forest Preserve, Proposal 3 is a win-win for the environment and for New Yorkers.
We hope you’ll join us in flipping over your ballot on Election Day and voting YES on Prop 3, and in spreading the word about this important ballot proposal.