March 18, 1930 – Schenectady Union Star

  • March 18, 1930 – Schenectady Union Star – Editorial –

Woodman, Spare the Forest Preserve! –

The proposal now before the legislature to change by concurrent resolution the state constitution contains so many dangerous implications that it should have close scrutiny before it is enacted. Not the least of the reasons is that contained in the proposal legislation that a ‘law enacted pursuant to this section shall take effect without submission to the people.’

To make alterations in the basic law of the state without submitting the amendment to the electorate is presumptuous. In itself, this calls for examination of motives and tends to rouse suspicion.

The subject under consideration is a proposed amendment to the constitution as related to the forest preserve, especially the Adirondack and Catskill parks – more especially the former. The proposition is that the State shall buy certain lands and add them to the existing state parks, but that the newly acquired areas shall not be subject to the constitutional provision which requires that the “forest preserve shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” On the contrary, the areas which it is proposed that the state shall buy are going to be open to timbering operations, since the proposed amendment provides that “nothing in this section… shall prevent the state from cutting, selling or removing trees… on any lands hereafter acquired with moneys herein authorized.” Which are a million dollars the first year and increased annually by two hundred thousand dollars.

One of the objectionable features is the possibility that the state conservation commission may condemn and take lands for the forest preserve. Having acquired them, the commission can sell off the timber. This opens the door to possible abuses, and the conservation commission itself should discern the possible improprieties that might be involved. The number of people who own summer homes around Lake George and who are interested in preserving that beautiful lake in its primitive state, with the mountains that rim it covered with the verdure of forest, are alive to the disaster which impends if the proposed legislation is enacted.

The purpose and intent of the constitution is to keep the matchless beauty of the mountain regions of New York State forever as a heritage for all of the people all the time. As life becomes more complex, people more and more need the recreation which can be had by breathing the mountain air of those regions. For this reason, the people of the state have decreed that the lands shall not be sold, leased or exchanged; that the timber of them shall not be cut or removed; but that they shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”

To add to the forest preserve lands which do not come under this rule would defeat the will of the people. It is not for this generation alone; it is for posterity. Thousands of tourists annually visit Lake George and carry away recollections of this gem of American lakes in its emerald setting. Some things are not measureable in money. There is none too much left of primitive American life. Spare Lake George, and spare the state the error of laying open public lands to the woodman’s axe.