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Farsighted investment in the Adirondacks

Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, 5:00 AM

Syracuse, NY -- If you saw the story Sunday about the state paying $30 million to preserve 89,000 acres of open space in the Adirondacks, you may have wondered: How could the state, faced with a $9 billion-plus deficit and the prospect of worker layoffs, school aid cuts, Medicaid cutbacks and other painful austerity moves, afford to spend $30 million to do — nothing?

While it’s true that maintaining open space is essentially a holding action that does not “create” anything, that $30 million is still a wise and constructive investment in New York’s future. In addition to carving out new recreation space for tourism, it allows for continued timbering on the land, producing and preserving jobs and contributing to the North Country’s economy and tax base.

Four years ago, the Nature Conservancy purchased 161,000 acres of timberland for $110 million. To protect more than half of that land from ever being developed — for just over a quarter of the original cost — is fiscally prudent.

The state has a special fund set up specifically for the purpose of preserving open space. This deal, years in the making, is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

New Yorkers can celebrate this farsighted move today, and for many years to come.





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