ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's environmental groups, worried about keeping the Adirondack Park and the Catskills pristine, are lining up to oppose holding a constitutional convention.
The concern is over the Forever Wild clause, in place since an 1894 convention. The clause has strictly limited development in the Adirondack Park, and local governments there chaff at times over the regulations, but the Adirondack Council says there's a broader concern at stake for the park.
"Our many concern is for business interests that would be interested in the fact the Adirondack Park has 300,000 of ancient old growth forest in it that isn't found anywhere in the northeast, that there are 3 million acres of forest land that could be exploited one way or the other, with a simple tweak to the Forever Wild clause," said John Sheehan, Adirondack Council communications director.
Polls this year have shown support for holding a convention and supporters argue voters have control over the process, but opponents contend the process could be taken over by special interests with well-funded campaigns thanks to loose campaign finance restrictions.
"There's an appeal to the constitutional convention because people have a lack of trust in government right now, ut the problem with the constitutional convention is there's nothing to say it's not just made up by legislators, so the same people are doing things the public might not be so happy with," said Liz Moran, Environmental Advocates of New York.
That's not to say the Adirondack Council opposes changes to the constitution. The group backs the amendment that would create a land bank for the Adirondacks, something voters will also consider this November.
New York voters consider whether to hold a constitutional convention every 20 years. The last one was held in 1967, but did not produce any changes.