Last week’s Adirondack Park Agency meeting was a humdinger.
Board members, state Department of Environmental Conservation staff and APA staff all discussed two major projects that have led to plenty of passionate public comment. Those included visions for the Debar Mountain Complex and some changes to the Essex Chain Lakes area.
About three hours into this meeting, with the above-mentioned projects taking up the majority of the time, board member Chad Dawson announced his resignation. Dawson (pictured here) has been a wilderness advocate on the board, whose membership leans toward local government and economic development.
Dawson led his announcement with a message from his predecessor Dick Booth. Dawson said Booth told him that “APA was too understaffed to take on any large-scale regional or park-wide planning projects and DEC administration would only be interested in pushing UMPs (unit management plans) crafted to highlight their predetermined goals with little regard for full analysis or for public comment and outside input. As Dick Booth predicted, that day has come.”
In case you missed it, here’s the story.
APA and DEC denied Dawson’s claims, while praising his work and board service. We’ll have to see whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo appoints in Dawson’s place. Earlier this summer the APA board was finally filled after several years of vacancies, when Cuomo appointed Zoe Smith, Mark Hall, Ken Lynch and Andrea Hogan. Now we’re one short again.
The Essex Chain Lakes matter has been decided–that is, campfires will now be allowed on 11 primitive campsites. DEC will report back to the APA in 2024 on how that is working and whether to reinstate a campfire ban. There will also be expanded parking and an equestrian staging area at the old Outer Gooley Club.
But the Debar Mountain Complex is still out for public comment. DEC and APA are still trying to figure out what to do about Debar Lodge. But, both agencies are advertising their plan to remove most of it, leave up a few remnants for educational purposes, build some picnic pavilions, parking and trails to create a whole recreational hub. They’re not advertising as much other alternatives that are still in play, like removing the camp and reverting the entire area to wild forest, or keeping Debar Lodge for administrative purposes or for some private entity to take on. Read more about that, review all the planning documents and learn how to comment here.
Adirondack Park Agency photo of Chad Dawson