On every New Yorker’s ballot this Election Day will be a proposal to amend the state Constitution to allow a power line to go through a section of the “forever wild” state Forest Preserve in the town of Colton. That might sound like a big deal to those who aren’t in the Adirondack news loop, but really it’s a rather small, sensible deal.
There are several reasons why:
¯This isn’t a state land giveaway. It’s a land swap, and the Forest Preserve comes out better for it. The state trades six roadside acres to National Grid for 43 acres in the towns of Piercefield and Clare.
¯This power line into Tupper Lake from the west was absolutely needed and, since May, has been providing a much-needed backup source of electricity for the Tri-Lakes region. Before then, Tupper Lakers risked freezing in the dark if a branch broke the single line into their community from the east. Meanwhile, busy Lake Placid, at the dead end of another line, was pushing its power capacity close to the limit.
¯This project has been in the works since at least 2004, and out of a long and detailed public discussion, every player in the controversial Adirondack roundtable — including environmentalists, state agencies and local and state politicians — agreed that this was the best option.
¯The short and narrow Preserve pass-through is right alongside state Route 56. This isn’t wild backcountry by many means. It doesn’t take significant habitat away from wildlife or special places away from recreationists.
¯The alternative, however, would violate wild forest — much more of it and much more wild and ecologically important. To circumvent the low-impact roadside route through its own land, the state would have to cut a longer swath through true backcountry, which happens to be one of the best habitats left for the spruce grouse, which is endangered in New York. It would also fragment the habitat of other animals that would be hesitant to cross the power line cut.
¯The detour would also be through private land, and the owner, who views it as something of a land trust, doesn’t want to sell. The state would have to buy it forcibly through eminent domain, and the owner has said he will sue.
¯The roadside power line project has already happened; it would do no good for nature and great harm for humans to rescind it and rip it out.
If you’re a local reader, you probably already know all this; and you’ll vote yes. You also probably think that it’s unnecessary for every New York voter to have to weigh in on this — especially considering that this is the state with, arguably, the least amount of democracy in the nation. No one had a say in the appointments of our current governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller and junior U.S. senator, and the state budget is decided by three men in a room, yet everyone has a say in an uncontroversial power line into Tupper Lake. State Sen. Betty Little’s push for a state “land bank” to avoid state votes in such cases in the future is right on.
Meanwhile, tell your friends, family and other people around the state, post it on your Facebook page, e-mail or clip and mail this editorial people — vote “yes” on Proposal 1.