- March 26, 1930 – Editorial to the New York Times – by E. MacD. Stanton –
Referring to your editorial entitled “Reforestation Amendment” published in the Times of Tuesday, March 25, I desire to call your attention to certain dangers associated with the proposed legislation and amendment to the Constitution.
I am in hearty sympathy with reforestation. I do not believe, however, that in order to accomplish $20,000,000 worth of reforestation activities on 1,000,000 acres of land in New York State over a period of fourteen years, it is at all necessary or wise for us to pass a constitutional amendment endangering Article 7, Section 7 of our Constitution which stands as the legal protection of our great playgrounds in the Adirondacks and Catskills.
This resolution says, “Nothing contained in this section nor in the prohibitions of section seven of this article shall prevent the state from cutting, selling or removing the trees, timber, forest products and other materials on any lands hereafter acquired with the moneys herein authorized within the forest preserve counties but outside of the Adirondacks and Catskill parks as now fixed by law.”
The parks as not fixed by law constitute approximately 38% of the forest preserve area. Even in the so-called parks themselves only a fraction of the land is State land. Most of us interested in these great playgrounds of our people have watched their growth in the past and have expected them to grow in the future.
It requires no constitutional amendment to reforest land and outside of the recreational area there are available I tracts of 500 acres or more some 889,000 acres which can be reforested and marketed without a constitutional amendment. The point is that in this situation whereby our Conservation Commission, or some similar body, will have the power to acquire any part they see fit of the timber remaining on the approximately 62% of forest preserve area outside of the parks, using condemnation proceedings if necessary in doing so, and then selling the timber thereon to the highest or most favored bidder. Surely, no one can help by see that such a proposition carries with it several very grave dangers.
First, I believe even the casual observer will see that it endangers the normal expansion and growth of our great woodland playgrounds so dear and important to the people and the voters of this State.
Second, there will be constant pressure on the administrating body to acquire, in the name of scientific forestry or lumbering or what not, tracts of mature timber to be cut by favored arties. Eighty percent of the time the administrative personnel may use perfect judgment and exhibit faultless integrity, but, trees planted when Abraham Lincoln was president are only now maturing. Administrative bodies subjected to the constant and insidious pressure and temptations generated by lines 16 to 2 of page 2 of Senate No. 595, 1621, do not always for the period it requires to grow a tree, resist such temptations.
As trees planted in 1930 cannot be used commercially before 1965, or later, why not allow the people living at that time the privilege of deciding what to do with their reforested areas and in the meantime save our administrative bodies the annoyances and troubles incident to carrying on their shoulders for thirty-five years or more, responsibilities now resting in Article 7, Section 7 of our Constitution?
- MacD. Stanton