OCTOBER 20, 1953
NEW YORK, Monday—Election day is still some distance off but it is not too soon, I think, for those of us who care about preserving our natural resources to mention to the public of New York State that there will appear on this year's ballot Amendment No. 9 which must be voted on separately.
Since my column goes in to many states, I would like to remind all the citizens of the United States that the preservation of their natural resources is something of great interest to them. If in their states they can possibly vote or work for anything which will keep their forests intact, prevent their soil from eroding, do away with disastrous floods which carry so much good soil away as well as destroy so much property, and see that oil and coal are not wasted, the nation will be a stronger and a richer nation.
For us in New York, Amendment No. 9 deals with the state's forest preserve land. An effort by private power interests is being made to exploit these lands for power purposes under the guise of river regulation. It is not too much to ask that, when a river regulating district wants to use forest preserve lands which belong to all the people of the state and create storage reservoirs on those lands, all the people should be consulted specifically in each such project.
It is, of course, obvious that flood control dams are sometimes necessary, but as a rule it is better to build them outside the forest preserve and to choose places where the dammed up water will do as little damage as possible. The preservation of forests is important in preserving the water level of our rivers. If we destroy too many forests, we will find that we have first floods and then droughts.
A situation might arise, however, which could only be solved by building a dam in a forest preserve and so it is provided in Ammendment No. 9 that the people of the state of New York may give permission for the construction of such a dam, but those who think it necessary must first convince the people that it is necessary, not just an effort on the part of private power interests to invade the forest preserve.
As the law stands today it is possible for a river regulating board to propose the construction of a dam in the forest preserve, to ignore any evidence that such a dam would not be in the public interest, and to build it, and no government official or member of the state legislature can overrule the river regulation board. It was thought that the state water power commission would have the power to curb these boards, but it has been proved that they are powerless. As a result this amendment was passed in the legislature by a bipartisan vote and I shall vote "yes" on Amendment No. 9 and hope that the majority of the citizens of New York state will do likewise.