The Hon. Steve Englebright, Chair, Environmental Conservation Committee
The Hon. Charles Lavine, Chair, Judiciary Committee
NYS Assembly
Albany, NY 12248

David Gibson
Managing Partner
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Ballston Lake, NY


Re. A. 794, an amendment of Article XIV, “Forever Wild,” at the former Camp Gabriels

Dear Assembly Members Englebright and Lavine,

We write out of concern for A. 794 (same as S. 5333), a proposed constitutional amendment of Article XIV, Section 1 of the NYS Constitution which passed the State Senate this week. The version passed by the Senate fails our tests for amendments to the “forever wild” clause. It lacks specificity about a verifiable community and economic public benefit of lands taken out of the Forest Preserve and lacks assurance of an overall net benefit to the Forest Preserve.

A 2020 version, drafted by the NYS DEC, received inputs from organizations concerned with Article XIV. To us, it was a true land exchange which had our support. In brief, the 2020 version would exchange only the most developed portion of the former Camp Gabriels prison, or 55-acres, to the County of Franklin for a future community economic benefit, in exchange for 300 acres for inclusion in the NYS forest preserve. The state legislature would have to approve of the 300 acres to determine if they were of equal or greater value than the 55-acres. The legislature would also have authority to review a plan for the community and economic uses of the 55-acre developed portion of the former Camp Gabriels.

The version of the amendment passed by the State Senate received no prior discussion among organizations most concerned with Article XIV. It differs significantly from the 2020 version and, in our view, is deficient as an amendment in these ways:

  • It is not a land exchange. It simply allows all 92-acres to be sold and the proceeds placed in a rarely used forest preserve expansion fund;
  • It provides no assurance that real forest lands of equal or greater value would someday be added to the Forest Preserve;
  • It includes all 92-acres of the former Camp Gabriels for sale and development, about 40-acres of which are essentially in an undeveloped condition now and should be retained as open space under conservation easement or as forest preserve, not developed;
  • It gives the state legislature no ability to review future public, community, and economic benefits of the state lands conveyed from the former Camp Gabriels.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve does not support A. 794 as written. We ask that it be held. We would be happy to join discussions in hopes that the DEC’s 2020 amendment or a version of it be taken up for legislative consideration. Thank you for considering our views.


David Gibson, Managing Partner
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

Cc: Hon. Billy Jones, NYS Assembly
Kevin Chlad, Adirondack Council
Cathy Pedler, Adirondack Mountain Club
Peter Bauer, Protect the Adirondacks