Monday, October 9, 2023

Debar Pond Lodge and the forest preserve

Debar Pond Lodge

In our deep-dive on Adirondack Park unit management plans (UMPs), we learned from the Adirondack Park Agency that Debar Mountain Wild Forest may soon be on the docket for another examination. In 2020, the agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft UMP that called for tearing down Debar Pond Lodge, a 1940s-era Great Camp in the town of Duane. It is an illegal structure on forest preserve lands.

But groups, particularly Adirondack Architectural Heritage, called for the building’s preservation. That would require a constitutional amendment, and though such a one has been introduced twice, it has not passed the state Legislature. Adirondack Architectural Heritage is hoping its third attempt will be successful this upcoming legislative session. Should it pass both houses, the earliest the amendment could be on a statewide ballot would be November 2025.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage and a nonprofit formed to save the lodge called Debar Pond Institute, released a survey of 239 visitors about the future of the building. Nearly all, 97% of voters, felt the building enhanced their visit and should be preserved. Nearly all, 98% of voters, said they would support a constitutional amendment.

It’s unclear when the APA and DEC will release the latest Debar UMP draft, but it was on a list of plans the APA is “actively” working on, according to the agency’s spokesperson. It will be interesting to see how it coincides with the progress of a proposed constitutional amendment. We will keep following it.

Adirondack Park Agency

The APA released a draft agenda for its monthly meeting on October 12. We will be learning more about a slate of new land classifications. In case you missed it, we had a preview of those lands and their proposed zoning classification in this story here:

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: New public comment opportunities include:

  • Applicant Michelle Brown is proposing to expand the Warrensburg Travel Park and Riverfront Campground on Schroon River Road in the town of Warrensburg.  The plan includes adding 51 campsites to the 174-site campground. Comments are due by Oct. 19. To see site plans and to submit comments, go to
  • Applicant William Lyons is proposing to reconfigure and subdivide four existing tax parcels that contain existing development to create four new lots to be redeveloped on Chelby Lane in the town of Northampton. Comments are due by Oct. 19. To see the site plans, read the full project description and submit comments, go to

Debar Lodge photo by Lorraine Duvall/Almanack archive

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

6 Responses

  1. Zachary Denton says:

    I think the smart thing to do would be to preserve the lodge, and potentially turn it into another economic engine for the adirondacks. It’s great history and architecture would be a shame to remiss. I would advocate the sale of the lodge with minimal acreage. This would allow operation of the lodge by a private group to support North country economics, and then also still allow the preservation of the surrounding wilderness.

  2. Lorraine Duvall says:

    The lodge photo attributed to me was from a 2020 Almanack post where I opposed the DEC proposal for “an extensive day-use area at the site of the lodge including “two pavilions, picnic tables, grills, fireplace, parking…” I advocated for Debar Pond, to keep it motorless. Now I am advocating the Pond and its shores remain opening accessible to all, and oppose the AARCH Constitutional Amendment which limits access.

  3. Bill Ott says:

    Find Debar Pond on Google Earth and click on street view to see Lance Harbart’s excellent photo of the lodge. I am all for forever wild. My favorite memories are of visiting places with no human evidence (including fire rings, etc.), and leaving none of my own. But this lodge seems special. Never having visited it and with no prospect of doing so, Harbart’s photo makes it seem wrong to me to tear this place down. Perhaps there are other photos (of the inside?) which say otherwise. I am an outsider. I want to read some more insider text.

    Bill Ott
    Lakewood, OH

  4. Ray james Murray says:

    Tear the lodge down and return it to its natural setting. This is not a historical building.We do not need a conference center here nor a parking lot or campsites or a gazebo.

  5. Boreas says:

    If the building is to be saved, I would like to see the immediate property used as an exclusive lodge/retreat for veterans with PTSD or other significant wounds, with some wheelchair-accessible infrastructure to much of the property. It could also be staffed with counselors and room for any caregivers.

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