Home Fitness Advocates Call for End of Mining Exploration in Jay Mountain Wilderness

Advocates Call for End of Mining Exploration in Jay Mountain Wilderness

by Ohio Digital News

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Map of NYCO Minerals land swap provided by DECThe nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is encouraging first passage of an amendment to Article XIV of the NYS Constitution that would sunset or limit the time when NYCO Minerals can continue to explore for minerals on 200 acres of the Jay Mountain Wilderness area in the town of Lewis, Essex County.

In 2013 New York voters narrowly passed an amendment to Article XIV allowing NYCO Minerals to sample for the mineral wollastonite on a 200-acre portion of state-owned Forest Preserve lands known as “Lot 8” in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.

In return for allowing mineral sampling and potential expansion of its mine into the constitutionally protected Wilderness, the amendment required NYCO to donate private lands to the State for inclusion in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, subject to approval by the Legislature.

While roads were built into the Wilderness lot, drilling equipment installed, and minerals sampled, the results of the mineral sampling have not been publicly released.

In a recent letter to the State Legislature’s Environmental Conservation Committees Adirondack Wild wrote that “the purported purpose of the commercial exploitation of the Wilderness was to expand local jobs and ensure the economic viability of NYCO’s wollastonite mining operation. More than ten years later, these promised economic benefits have not materialized.”

According to news reports during 2018-2019, the number of NYCO jobs in Essex County has fallen. NYCO was purchased by the international mining conglomerate Imerys, which has shifted much of its wollastonite mining to Mexico.

The company’s mineral samples from Lot 8 were to be submitted to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for analysis and subsequent appraisal of their value.

“To our knowledge, no one in DEC has publicly reported on the samples, the results of the analysis, or the necessary DEC appraisals. Moreover, to our knowledge the company has not identified, much less purchased, the private lands it proposed to donate in return for its mining operations,” says Adirondack Wild’s managing partner David Gibson

“Ten years having passed, we are asking the State Legislature to take a measured step forward by setting a firm deadline for completion of mineral sampling and the land exchange,” said Gibson. “The time has come for NYCO to fulfill its promises or, by date certain, to allow the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area to be freed from the perpetual threat of private exploitation.”

“We also ask the Legislature to ensure that any damage to the Wilderness lot caused by road construction and mineral sampling be remediated,  and the land be restored and allowed to eventually return to a natural condition appropriate to a Wilderness classification.”

If a sunset to the 2013 NYCO amendment is passed this session, it must also pass in the next, or 2025 state legislature, and then be submitted to the voters for their approval.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, membership advocate acting to safeguard wilderness and to promote wild land values and stewardship. More is found on the web at adirondackwild.org.

Illustration: Map of NYCO Minerals land swap provided by DEC.

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