Miners have been drilling, blasting and digging up wollastonite at NYCO Mineral Inc.’s mine here for more than 50 years.
But the enormous open pits that yield the white, marble-textured mineral are now butting up against the boundary line between privately owned NYCO lands and the Adirondack Forest Preserve, which is protected from development.
In November, voters statewide will decide if the boundary line can be expanded by 200 acres to allow the Essex County mine to continue extracting wollastonite, used as a plastic hardener and asbestos substitute, among other things.
If the expansion wins, NYCO will hand over about 1,500 acres to the state for inclusion in the Forest Preserve, which is protected under a 19th-century law that requires the land to stay “forever wild.”
The swap is one of six constitutional amendments to be considered in November.
Because the 2.5-million-acre Forest Preserve is protected from development in the state constitution, any changes have to be approved by two separately elected legislatures, and then by statewide referendum.
Over the past 20 years, four similar Adirondack referendums have come before voters and have been approved with little fanfare. New Yorkers have said yes to expansions or construction of cemeteries and airports, water systems and power lines.