The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have announced a 60-day joint public comment period on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the Debar Mountain Complex (DMC) Draft Unit Management Plan and a proposal to reclassify approximately 41 acres of the Wild Forest as Intensive Use.
The plan would also demolish and remove a rustic 1940s Adirondack camp at the north end of Debar Pond that is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
APA and DEC encourage the public to comment on the draft GEIS and reclassification proposal before the end of the comment period on February 12th, 2021.
Debar Mountain Complex is located in the towns of Brighton, Duane, Franklin, Santa Clara, and Waverly (Franklin County). The complex includes the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, Deer River Primitive Area, and Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area. The unit spans approximately 88,000 acres in total, divided into several non-contiguous segments. The area provides for a wide range of year-round recreational activities, including hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, hunting, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, and more.
Proposed management actions (list provided by DEC):
Creation of a Day Use Area at Debar Pond, which includes the removal of the historic Debar Lodge (and associated structures), reclassification from Wild Forest to Intensive Use, building a picnic area, and establishing trail connections to develop a recreation hub;
Construction of new trail systems and the establishment of long-distance trails to connect the existing trail systems. There are about 53.4 miles of new trail proposed, including 40 miles which will be open for mountain bike use;
The closure of 9.3 miles of seldom-used snowmobile routes and the addition of 2.9 miles of new snowmobile trail, including network connections to nearby snowmobile trails;
Construction of new parking areas and improvements to current parking areas to accommodate public access to the area;.
Improving access to several waterbodies by formalizing traditional access points;
Improving recreational access for persons with disabilities throughout the unit by incorporating accessible features at the Debar Pond Day Use Area, including picnic tables, fireplaces, restrooms, trails, and a water access site, improving a trail to accessible standards near Buck Pond, and upgrading primitive tent sites to accessible standards; and
Bringing the entire camping system into compliance with setback requirements of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan through a combination of relocation, closure, and creation of new primitive tent sites.
As described in the Draft GEIS and Draft UMP, alternatives being considered are reclassification and management of a portion of the Debar Mountain Complex surrounding Debar Pond as an intensive use/day use area, intensive use/campground, historic, administrative, and no action, including variations on these alternatives.
DEC also requests public input on what action to take for the dams at Madawaska Pond and Santa Clara Flow. Alternatives under consideration are to remove the dams, repair and maintain the dams, or take no action.
APA and DEC are holding two virtual public hearings on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. The first session begins at 1:30 pm, and the second at 6 pm. DEC and APA staff will present on the proposed changes, answer questions, and receive public comment. For further information about the virtual hearings, visit the APA website.
To view the Draft DMC Unit Management Plan, Draft GEIS, proposed management actions and alternatives, and virtual presentations, visit DEC’s website. The proposed DMC Unit Management Plan and DGEIS can also be downloaded from APA’s website.
Comments related to the proposed management actions and State land reclassification can be submitted by email or mail to the following addresses:
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Lands and Forests
PO Box 296, 1115 NY-86
Ray Brook, NY 12977
All comments must be received by February 12th, 2021.
Photo of Debar Lodge provided by National Park Service.