Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Tear Down Debar Lodge And Make Debar Pond Into Another Lake Lila

Protect the Adirondacks opposes legislation for an amendment to Article 14, Section 1, of the New York Constitution to remove six acres of public lands from the constitutionally protected Adirondack Forest Preserve. The affected lands provide public access to Debar Pond in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest area and include some decrepit buildings that should be demolished and removed. The proposed constitutional amendment would convey into private ownership an area is used by the public seeking remote, wild experiences on an otherwise undeveloped lake. The existing buildings, known as Debar Lodge, are dilapidated and will costs millions of dollars to restore for their proposed new use as some kind of private institute. If the deal goes through, public access will be sharply reduced from what we all enjoy today. This is a bad deal for public recreation, for wild places, and for the forever wild Forest Preserve.

Supporters of resuscitating Debar Lodge want to reduce public access to a side path on the edge of the private compound, while the paying guests of the renovated Debar Lodge complex will be able to monopolize the area with the best access to Debar Pond. The public will be allowed on the grounds of the private enclave for a fee or with a conference reservation.

Debar Lodge and other buildings should be removed, the site should be restored, and Debar Pond should be managed as a wild, motorless lake. Debar Pond could be another Lake Lila — accessible, yet wild. There is a far greater need in the Adirondack Park for more Lake Lilas than there is for another private retreat center.

There are many reasons why the effort to resurrect an outdated and dilapidated lodge and remove these lands from the Forest Preserve is a bad idea.

The Proposed Constitutional Amendment Will Strip Public Recreational Rights and Use: Creating a private 6+/-acre complex around the old lodge buildings will undermine and greatly weaken public access to Debar Pond. Supporters of the amendment seek to create a private compound where public access to Debar Pond will be greatly diminished. The lands that the proposed amendment would transfer from public to private ownership include (i) the principal public access point to Debar Pond; (ii) an open grassy area between the old lodge buildings and the lake that is a popular site for picnics and family activities; and (iii) the most popular and easiest route to carry a canoe to the Debar Pond.

The public has enjoyed unfettered access to the Debar Lodge lands for more than a decade. State taxpayers purchased these lands more than three decades ago and have paid all local taxes on these lands since the purchase. The public has enjoyed the parking area and short walk or canoe carry through the grounds to Debar Pond. Public use has significantly increased in the last half dozen years since the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stopped using the site to house its staff, a practice of questionable legality. Protect the Adirondacks is greatly concerned about efforts to privatize and significantly diminish the public’s access to these lands. We believe that transferring these precious public lands to private ownership will seriously and irreparably damage public access to and enjoyment of Debar Pond. See a map below

In our meetings with amendment supporters, they were adamant about needing exclusive, privately controlled access to the Debar Lodge site to conduct their activities. Project supporters made it clear that unfettered public use, a hallmark of the Forest Preserve, is incompatible with the redevelopment of the Debar Lodge contemplated by this amendment.

Protect the Adirondacks opposes transferring important public access and recreational lands into private ownership and limiting the public’s access to this remarkable part of the Forest Preserve to a narrow pathway around a private compound. The proposed amendment would transform members of the public into illegal trespassers on lands that were purchased by the State for the use and enjoyment of the public. We cannot support a proposal that strips away the rights of New Yorkers to the best access for Debar Pond.

The Lake Lila Model is the Best Historic Precedent for Debar Lodge and Debar Pond: The State of New York purchased Lake Lila and several thousand acres around it in the 1970s. Part of the purchase included Nehasane Lodge on the west end of Lake Lila. Peter Berle, then DEC Commissioner, oversaw the demolition and removal of that Great Camp and associated buildings. Today, Lake Lila is a treasured part of the William C. Whitney Wilderness area and has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people for more than four decades for its beauty and wildness. Had Nehasane Lodge remained, the entire Lake Lila experience today would be fundamentally different and significantly diminished.

Lake Lila’s restoration and its classification as Wilderness is one of the great success stories in the Adirondack Park. Today, Lake Lila provides a stunningly beautiful Wilderness landscape and experience, and provides more than two dozen wilderness campsites. The lake is heavily used by the public all summer long, year after year. We believe that former DEC Commissioner Berle’s vision for Lake Lila was prescient and was the right decision because wild, motorfree lakes have only grown rarer and more precious in the last 50 years. Lake Lila would be a very different place today had Nehasne Lodge been preserved and/or privatized.

Protect the Adirondacks believes that the Lake Lila model is the best model for Debar Lodge and Debar Pond.

Wildness is the Overriding Forest Preserve Value at Debar Pond: Protect the Adirondacks has a fundamentally different vision for the Debar Lodge property than amendment supporters who seek to privatize the property. In our vision, Debar Pond would be a place that is managed to grow even wilder in the future than it is today. In our vision, Debar Pond would be another Lake Lila or Boreas Pond or Little Tupper Lake or Henderson Lake, a motorfree and wild lake where the public can canoe, hike and camp, in a landscape that grows wilder decade after decade. We note that public use at Debar Pond has tripled in the past several years. According to DEC, the increase in public use is the result of the abandonment of Debar Lodge as a residence for DEC personnel, which made the site more open and welcoming to the public. Turning Debar Lodge into a private enclave would reverse this trend and discourage public use of Debar Pond.

We see Debar Pond as a special and accessible wild area, a place where grandparents can one day bring their grandchildren to experience wildness in much the same way, unchanged and beautiful, as they experienced Debar Pond as children themselves. There is nothing better to illustrate the promise of the public Forest Preserve in New York State than this kind of generation after generation enjoyment of wild nature at beautiful and timeless locations.

The Proposed Deal Provides Inadequate Compensation for the Forest Preserve: Supporters aim to “compensate” for the loss of the 6 acres around Debar Lodge by giving 400 acres of lands elsewhere to the Forest Preserve. This tract sits between the Meecham Lake access road and State Route 30. On its face, a 6 acre for 400-acre swap may seem like a good deal, but the 400 acres proposed contain no shoreline. This is hardly an equitable trade. This tract is assessed by the local town at $223,000 at full market value. It’s classified as timberlands in the tax code. Vacant forest lands run at about $1,000 per acre, so the 400 acres, far from just about everything, is probably something like $400,000 in value.There are many lakes in the Adirondacks where one cannot buy a building lot for $400,000. The exclusive setting of the Debar Lodge complex on what is basically its own private lake makes this trade uneven, basically a rip-off of the Forest Preserve and New York State taxpayers.

Debar Lodge is in disrepair, but it is the sole building complex on an otherwise undeveloped lake. Similar properties with one private group of buildings on an otherwise undeveloped lake in the Adirondacks go for big bucks. Consider Windfall Pond, a 1,615-acre lake with a modest camp. It’s valued at around $1.2 million. Or consider the 588-acre Dexter Lake once owned by Shania Twain. There’s a new 8-bedroom, 9-bathroom mansion on the lake, which sold for $4.1 million in 2007 and is assessed at nearly $8 million today. The Masten House in Newcomb sits on a 42-acre private lot on Henderson Lake, which is otherwise all Forest Preserve. The property sold recently for over $2 million. There are two private inholdings on Forked Lake, which is largely Forest Preserve, one valued at $2.2 million. There are many others.

The draft amendment includes an easement over the property if it is transferred. That easement mandates limited and strictly defined public access to the grounds. Supporters argue that this access, and required but limited public parking and public disabled access, diminishes the value of the property. It remains a property in an exclusive setting and it should not be given away. This effort, regardless of how supported dress it up, remains a project that privatizes a public asset and constricts public use.

The draft amendment states that the 400 acres that are to compensate the removal of the 6 acres and buildings must be “at least equal in value to the lands and buildings conveyed by the state.” The proposed trade falls short and is in no way equal in value. Why would the People of the State of New York agree to such a bad deal? We think they would not.

Adirondack Great Camp Social and Architectural History is Already Adequately Preserved and Interpreted: Many Adirondack Great Camps recognized for their architectural and social history are protected and have been restored by private owners across the Adirondack Park. With a few exceptions, most of these camps are located on relatively small acreages and it is therefore unlikely that they would be part of any future public land purchases for the Forest Preserve. The future of these several dozen Great Camps is reasonably secure because they are privately owned and maintained. Many of these camps have been recognized for their architectural significance and have been showcased at times for public tours.

Great Camp Santanoni on Newcomb Lake is an inholding of sorts within the High Peaks Wilderness. This Great Camp was purchased in the 1970s as part of a 12,000-acre purchase of lands that were added to the High Peaks Wilderness. Great Camp Santanoni existed in a state of benign neglect for decades. A state law was passed to allow its buildings to remain on the Forest Preserve if they met a specific purpose. The Great Camp Santanoni complex, and its access road, remain in the Forest Preserve and were classified as a Historic Area under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP). The grounds around the buildings remain accessible and available to the public for free.

Great Camp Santanoni was eventually stabilized with state funding beginning in the early 2000s. The first iterations of the APSLMP in the 1970s did not have a Historic classification, but it was added in subsequent revisions. The State of New York has spent millions of dollars to stabilize and restore Great Camp Santanoni, which functions today as a living museum. The most recent state budget allocated another $500,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for Camp Santanoni in this year’s budget.

The continued existence of Great Camp Santanoni is an attraction for many people and considered an important cultural resource in the Town of Newcomb.  However, the Camp’s presence has diminished the public wild experience on Newcomb Lake. The Historic Area has also created management issues related to use of snowmobiles to ferry staff and supplies to the Great Camp during the winter, state administrative use of motor vehicles on the access road in summer, months, and staff living in the “historic” buildings on site. Despite these problems, we recognize that Great Camp Santanoni provides a viable public education and interpretation experience for Adirondack Great Camp architectural and social history. That said, we see no need for the preservation of another Great Camp on the Forest Preserve, especially one where the entire property, buildings and grounds, will be closed to the public.

Great Camp Sagamore has also been preserved and fully restored. As we see it, there is no better preservation effort in the Adirondacks, and no better educational effort in the Adirondacks, for Adirondack Great Camps. Great Camp Sagamore is a fully restored Great Camp complex of more than two dozen buildings that sit on Sagamore Lake’s shore. Two Article 14 amendments in the 1980s transferred Great Camp Sagamore and more than a dozen acres to a private institute for educational purposes. The Sagamore Institute has worked since the 1980s to provide public education and interpretation about Adirondack Great Camp architectural and social history. The facility is also used for private conferences and events such as weddings.

Sagamore Institute provides the most indepth educational opportunity for Great Camp architectural and social history in the Adirondack Park for paying customers and school groups through guided tours. While the Great Camp complex has been fully restored, the public experience on Sagamore Lake has always been circumscribed by the Great Camp. Sagamore Lake is no Lake Lila, but had the Great Camp been removed over 40 years ago it would be as stunning and wild as Lake Lila is today.

Today, public access to Sagamore Lake is sharply curtailed by the private Great Camp, where only paying customers can roam its grounds. Public parking areas and access to the lake have never been adequately developed, largely because the private institute resisted them. The guests at the Great Camp enjoy easy lake access from a restored boathouse and series of docks, which are off-limits to the public. The Great Camp Sagamore complex dominates the lake where members of the public are in essence second-class citizens. We do not want that second-class citizen experience for the public repeated at Debar Pond.

Protect the Adirondacks recognizes the necessity of compromise in the management of the Adirondack Park. We realize that the Adirondack Park of today is forged from a series of decisions and compromises made decades ago. However, we do not believe the public needs another Great Camp Sagamore situation where they become trespassers on formerly public lands. We believe that the Lake Lila/Great Camp Nehasane model is the most appropriate one for Debar Lodge. We believe that the Debar Lodge complex should be removed, and the site restored to a Wild Forest setting. In this way, we’re confident that Debar Pond will grow wilder and even more beautiful in future decades.

We believe that there is no greater gift to future generations than wild spaces around a restored, wild, and motorfree Debar Pond. The world needs more wild spaces, which every year grow fewer. We need wildness far more than we need another private retreat center.

Make Debar Pond into another Lake Lila.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

51 Responses

  1. Raymond Johnson says:

    I do not think we need another wealthy person’s camp to be preserved. This perpetuates in a way the huge income inequality we have in the U.S.
    We should find a very modest camp built by an average person’ finances and preserve that.
    Raymond Johnson

  2. Michael Smith says:

    Trading away the prime public access to Debar Lake would be a tragedy. Peter’s comparison to Sagamore is a right on target. Debar Pond is a gem and I will be very sad to see my canoe access to it, for all practical purposes, eliminated. Despite what some people say, the building is a wreck. The grounds, however, are magnificent. Tear it down and put in some public improvements, perhaps a couple reservable lean tos.

  3. Ellie wall says:

    Unfortunately, Mr.Bauer Has neglected to discuss that there has been an outpouring of support to save the debar lodge that has been going on for over 10 years when the state began to discuss Tearing it down. If you go online to public comment over the past few years you will find overwhelming support. Steve Anglehart from AARCH has been a wonderful proponent and working tirelessly with local politicians to come to an agreement with the state regarding this property. A webinar regarding the latest news about the amendment, which is being proposed by both our senator Dan Stec and Assemblyman Billy Jones was discussed. There was also discussion in the webinar, regarding how the public would utilize this property rather than New York State’s proposal of putting a platform with some picnic tables, and out houses on the property after they tore down building. This would’ve been the exact opposite of what you’re wanting to see in the beautiful, pristine view of debar Pond. If you want to talk about public access, let’s talk about the gate which prevents handicap people from accessing the pond currently and the fact that no one has taken care of the path on the right that took you in the area where you could go up the mountain trail. I often go there to check on the place and almost everyone I talk to from all walks of life are impressed with the whole atmosphere there, and it includes the lodge. The town of Duane has worked tirelessly to purchase this property with great difficulty. The debar institute will become a good steward of property. I myself recommended that homeward bound adirondacks work with state to purchase property and they got such a runaround they gave up and purchase land on lake Titus. The people have spoken we want the lodge saved and better access to the property. I would like to be able to bring my kayak to pond but a mile carry in is overwhelming. The amendment as it stands should be passed and improvements made and it will be an enhancement to a treasure we all need to be able to enjoy.

    • Michael Smith says:

      The carry in to the lake is about 1/2 mile and very easy. But by all means provide handicapped access. Debar pond is a rare find with clear water and wild landlocked salmon. Privatize it and it’s a sure bet, that like Sagamore, local anglers and canoeists, unless they want to pay to stay there, can kiss their access good bye. From a distance the camp looks pretty nice but get up close and you’ll see it’s state of advanced disrepair.

      • Jim says:

        There is a public canoe launch at Sagamore

      • Sara Lee says:

        Sagamore Lake has two public parking lots, a canoe launch, a privative campsites, and multiple surrounding hiking trails maintained by the DEC and completely open to the public at no cost. The only cost comes if you choose to visit Great Camp Sagamore’s property itself, which is a nonprofit and charges a fee in order to stay open and funds the preservation of the buildings. Waters are also open to fish.

  4. Bill Keller says:

    Proposed changes to the Constitution must be approved by a majority of voters. I’m all for letting the voters approve what happens to the Debar Lodge complex. Tear it down or preserve it works either way. To my knowledge, Sagamore Lake can be accessed from a waterway access site on the western shore of the lake, it involves a 300-foot carry from the parking area. But it can only be used by “second class citizens”, you know the public.

  5. Susan Bullock says:

    Keep it simple,and enjoyable by all.Dont sell it keep it forever for all to use not just for people with deep pockets.

    • Cheryl D says:

      You are being misled. Public access to the pond will be preserved. The reason a group came together to save the lodge, built by famed Adirondack architect Willim Distin (1884-1970) is because NYS has declined to do so. The land swap of several hundred acres for a portion of the Debar land acquired in 1979 would preserve this lodge, and the non-profit group proposes to run programs on the property that would allow the structure to be restored and maintained. Though wilderness advocates want to see the destruction of human-built structures, ostensibly in the service of protecting the environment (from humans) alternate proposals for the site would also actually increase its use, but the original building(s) would be gone.

  6. wash wild says:

    It’s unfortunate that Protect and other preservation organizations didn’t take more of an interest in Crossett Pond near Lake George. Nearly a thousand acres and a pristine lake in a highly popular, heavily used part of the Adirondacks recently for sale. Now sold for the use of one rich individual. A sad reflection on America and its values. A sad day for future generations.

    • Claudia Braymer says:

      Crossett Pond is private property. The property subject to the proposed Debar amendment is a piece of public land with a pristine lake that the People of the State of New York already own as part of the Forest Preserve. Protect opposes removing it from the Forest Preserve and selling this land to a private entity. It will be a sad day if the amendment were to pass.

    • Paul says:

      The American value of “private property ownership” enshrined in the US constitution?

  7. Ellen SAFIR says:

    Why can’t the lodge be saved, renovated and maintained be the DEC as a nature center with public access?

  8. Tom Kligerman says:

    Agree with Peter Bauer – there are many examples of the “compromise” combo of public/private lakes such as Little Tupper, the cited Henderson Lake and more and they not a goal to be repeated. New York needs to continue its own example of adding or in this case keeping lands 100% forever wild, most especially lake and lakeshores. The value of an undeveloped and publicly owned pristine shoreline is 10 orders of magnitude more than a 20th century building that some like to gaze at and would keep as a “historic” inn.

  9. Scot Slater says:

    I agree with Peter Bauer, the building need to come down. The setting on the lake is remarkable and the lake provides a pleasant paddle. Both would be enhanced by the building’s removed and perhaps a leanto or two.

  10. Eileen Buholtz says:

    I disagree with Peter Bauer. He has not read the proposals. Public access will be maintained. The state proposes to tear down these architecturally significant buildings and erect new facilities that the DEC does not have the money to build much less staff. The DEC should be spending its money on forest rangers.

  11. Adk Camper says:

    Nah bruh.

  12. Tavia gilbert says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Tear it down.

  13. Mary says:

    I agree with this article. The state needs to tear down the buildings.
    Many wanted to preserve the great camp at lake lila, but the expense was not worth it, and the goal was to add it to the forest preserve, not offer a museum or a lodging facility.

  14. Michael and Phyllis Sinclair says:

    We agree with Protect The Adirondacks. The taxpayers of NY own this pristine property. We should keep it public.
    Tear down the buildings.
    Yes, a miniature Lake Lila.

  15. Lillian Antoci says:

    We need it to keep it forever wild and not sold to rich people private compound. Why not make it a campground so regular people can enjoy. We need more campground in the Adirondack. Campground in the Adirondack are already filled to capacity. It should be kept wild. A small non motorized boat pond campground but in any means sold to private deep pocket owners.

    • Paul says:

      No rich person can buy it. It is state owned, it can’t be sold on the forest preserve. This is why the state can’t even sell and old hospital made prison for a summer camp.

    • Paul says:

      “Campground in the Adirondack are already filled to capacity.”. There are tons of unoccupied campsites in the northern part of the Adirondacks like where Debar pond is located. Go look at all the campsites on the northern river “corridors” that these environmental groups lobbied so heavily to add to the forest preserve. Basically nobody uses any of them. Check it out if you don’t believe me. I am in these areas often. The few times that people paddle in these areas is for some chapter in a book that somebody is trying to sell to arm chair outdoors people.

  16. Ellie wall says:

    It is so disheartening g to read these comments. Currently the public can go into the pond by parking car and walking in a 1/2 mile. You can carry kayaks. Picnic, hike fish and I am sure pitch a tent if you want . Nys has kindly put an outhouse at top of clearing.. however you are correct nys has no $ nor interest todo anything’ else. Currently as I said previously the trail to right is not being maintained, if you go there the former boathouse has fallen down and threatens what you call pristine shorelline. Debar institute has the ability and$ to be steward of lodge and surroundings and if you read proposal we the public will have access. I beg to differ that the trail is easy to traverse with a kayak. It’s a mile in and out and I am a 73 year old female with some physical issues. Once again nys will probably get what they want by making it painfully difficult to go through all the red tape and hoops they require to get this done. Many others have spoken and we may not be heard . It’s a shame..

    • Cheryl D says:

      I agree. Amazing how much damage one disingenuous article can do. I would urge people to read the other articles on this issue, which make clear the aims of the group trying to save Debar Lodge. I’m also irked at one responder who essentially said, who cares what the local people in the area want? The interests of the state should prevail. Who is it who determines those interests? As though the humans who live here, or whose ancestors lived here, should be discounted. Years ago an acquaintance ranted about a perceived drive to remove locals from the scene, we are peons who don’t count. At the time, I scoffed.

  17. David Turner says:

    All I had to read was ‘make it another Lake Lila’ and I was pretty sure I would agree. I have been watching this issue on Adk Explorer for a while and understand that preserving the lodge is an important desire for the local community who have been around it their whole lives, but I think the needs of the whole park, state, and society probably outweigh that wholly valid desire. I admire the efforts of those who want to preserve the lodge, but for every Santanoni and Sagamore we need a whole lot more Lilas.

    • Paul says:

      David, this is a lot different than those great camps you mention (and I think those are the only two that the state has any interest in – just 2). It is a piece of history that highlights a much more modest type of lodge from that era. The whole state gets all the lake this is just sitting at one end. Like Santinoni, I doubt you would be able to drive to it? It’s not like people don’t paddle, camp, and enjoy Lake Newcomb because Santanoni is there.

  18. Colvin says:

    I think the Lodge should be torn down and the area should be fully returned to Forever Wild status in compliance with Article XIV of the Constitution. The reasons to remove land from the Forest Preserve should be so overwhelming that removal is a no-brainer. A DeBar Lodge amendment is not a no-brainer. The need for wild places is ever increasing; the need for private conference centers is not. Other proposed constitutional amendments, especially an amendment to legitimize existing ORDA development on Forest Preserve lands at Mount Van Hoevenberg, would seem to be far more important than this proposal and should be prioritized by the legislature.

  19. Gary Cring says:

    As a former member of the Duane Town Board I fully agree with Peter’s comments and suggestions. Taking the lodge down is long over due!

  20. Paul says:

    Debar pond is no Lake Lila even with this lodge razed.

    • ELLEN SAFIR says:

      I agree, that lodge is part of what makes that place unique. Again I ask, is there some reason DEC cannot maintain it as a nature center or something similar and the public can continue to enjoy the beauty of the lake, canoeing and seeing one of the beautiful cabin structures that people use to enjoy back when people actually liked to be social while enjoying nature. Believe it or not the two are compatible.

      • Paul says:

        This is also a very different type of historical structure than a Sagamore. I was just in Oxford in the UK – why do europeans care so much more about saving history where we seem to want to erase it? If it doesn’t work out you can always tear it down later.

  21. Ellie wall says:

    I just reached out to Erin Tobin aarch. She advises that the amendment passed the assembly, but it got stalled in the Senate, and as she put itPeter Bauer was able to Influence a key senator, so now we need to wait another year. So once again, the environmentalists are able to influence, and as a result, there will be more deterioration of the lodge, and less chance of it being restored. We will continue to pursue the effort and hope that next year the voice of the people will be heard. I I appreciate being able to voice my opinion here. Thank you.

    • Gary says:

      Ellie, when I saw arch I knew where your comment was headed. This is okay as everyone has an opinion should be able to express it, that includes Peter Bauer.

  22. David Gibson says:

    Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has been to Debar Pond and supports the proposed amendment and land exchange as a win:win for the public, for the Forest Preserve, for the protection of Debar Pond itself and for educational programming in the northern Adirondacks. Remember, the threat here came not from the private sector. It came from our NYS DEC which in 2020 proposed to tear down the Lodge and turn the entire 10 acre cleared area and shoreline into an Intensive Use “Recreational Hub.” Instead of a tranquil Wild Forest, DEC would have given us picnic pavilions, more motorized uses and parking, and more pressures on the Pond and its shoreline. The land exchange would preserve the Lodge for educational programs, restrain parking and motorized uses, provide public tours inside, provide two access points to the Pond and hiking trails for paddlers and explorers, maintain the Pond and adjacent mountains as Forest Preserve free from motorized use, and provide 400 acres of additional Forest Preserve near Meacham Lake in exchange for just 6 acres. We argue that is, overall, a net benefit to the Forest Preserve, and to the communities north of Saranac Lake, including Malone.

  23. Paul says:

    Not many people go to Debar Pond now, not many will go there if you tear this down. It is not the reason its not well used. It is because of where it is. For the Adirondacks it is in the middle of nowhere. It’s not even that popular a hunting area anymore.

  24. Jeanne says:

    My husband & I go frequently. It’s a beautiful area! You can’t go in Debar buildings, just marvel at the log structure. Its tranquil & lovely! It’s a great place to canoe & hike away from people. How can anyone disagree with that. I would love to get insde for a tour.

  25. Ellie wall says:

    Once again the comment that not many people go there is totally incorrect. There is a sign in book and I am always amazed at the # of people from all over the country visit this area.if you drive further down the road there are two communities that are thriving with restaurants, store and churches. 20 mins from Malone and a beautiful golf course. And it’s is not arch it’s AARCH.

    • Paul says:

      It is just my personal experience that when I have been there it is usually pretty quiet. I will check the register you mention this weekend and report how many people have signed in recently to confirm that there are lots of users as you describe. Also if you are talking about Loon Lake (restaurants (plural)). Isn’t the golf course there abandoned? According to the 2021 Saranac Lake historical wiki it is? What is the other thriving community down the road?

  26. Jackie Peterson says:

    I totally agree, that Debar Pond should not become a private entity! Our family loves the Adirondacks, and have camped there for over 24 years. Now our children are bringing their children. Every inch of the Adirondack forest needs to remain as is; a precious commodity for all to enjoy!

    • Paul says:

      The proposal here is to add an additional 400 acres to the Adirondack Forest Preserve for you and your family to enjoy? Why are you against that? Nobody is talking about the pond becoming a private entity. Maybe read the story then comment.

      • Gary says:

        Paul, you sound a little hostile. Maybe she know the 400 acres are worthless! I drive by it several times per week. I see little if any recreational value in it. How familiar are you with it?

        • Paul says:

          Gary, no I am not familiar with the 400 acres the are looking at, only the 6 at the pond that would be the other part of the exchange. Where is it? I am not sure that “recreational” value is necessarily what the state would be looking for in an exchange. If it is, the state should suggest an alternative parcel for the swap. For example some private inholdings that the state already would like to add to the FP based on their UMP’s. I think there are even a few in the Debar Mt. Wild Forest UMP.

  27. Tom Paine says:

    Let amendment be presented to all the people of New York State and let them decide. No backroom Albany deals at the NYSDEC offices with only a certain few allowed to decide.

  28. Ellie wall says:

    Paul in answer to your comment I am not talking about loon lake. The towns are owls head and Mountain View which are 10 miles on rd off rt 30 . You are welcome to count people that come In and they keep coming despite rough rd in and trail that nys Dec is no longer maintaining..

    • Paul says:

      Is that place Belly’s in Mountain View still open. That is the only restaurant I know there? Used to have good fries and pies… Where is the golf course – owls head.

  29. JD says:

    We visited Debar Pond twice. Once walked to the shore and marveled at the setting and lodge. Next year came back with our kayaks. No problem carrying in and launching. We had one other kayaker for company. A handful of people on shore wishing they had a kayak or canoe. The lodge was there and in no way detracted from our kayaking experience. But it brought history up to us. We wondered about the family that built it. Wondered about the families that had lived there. it was history. We don’t like how some in the country are tearing down history. Let’s see it and wonder about it. We got our present day experience and were presented with history to think about the past. We have stayed at GC Sagamore and paddled that lake. Lodge did not change that paddling experience. Toured White Pine Camp and paddled that lake also. Lodge only made us realize history was there also. Let AARCH take stewardship of Debar Pond Lodge and leave the lake to us paddlers. jd

  30. Ellen SAFIR says:

    Love JD’s response!

  31. Ellie wall says:

    Love jds response also Paul belly’s has changed hands it’s now Jessie’s super club open wed thru Sunday. Check out sugarloaf fabulous bbq and now guy from lake placid bought trail side which will be renovated to brew pub. Owls head general now serves sandwiches hot dogs etc tues thru Sunday. Malone golf club is In Malone

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