Back in November, I posted an article that the state planned to remove a cabin near the summit of Thomas Mountain overlooking Lake George. Many people commented that they’d like the cabin to remain. It has since been taken down. Here is an updated story that appears in the January/February issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.
Despite public opposition, the state Department of Environmental Conservation in December razed a cabin near the summit of Thomas Mountain overlooking Lake George.
The cabin was built before DEC bought the property from the Lake George Land Conservancy in 2013. From the front porch, hikers enjoyed an impressive view of the south basin of Lake George and nearby peaks. Inside were a sofa, chair, and various items left by visitors, such as canned goods, a kerosene lantern, and toilet paper.
After the Adirondack Explorer reported online in late November that DEC planned to take down the cabin, the article was shared widely on Facebook, and many people condemned the decision. One reader started a petition drive to save the cabin.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cabin had to come down since it was a “non-conforming structure” under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. He also said the cabin had been vandalized and misused and had become a public-safety nuisance.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, agrees that DEC did the right thing. “Legally, they were required to remove it, and it’s just good management,” said Woodworth, who is a lawyer.
Woodworth said an argument also can be made that the cabin violated Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”
Whereas wooden lean-tos have always been seen as permissible under Article 14, the public has rejected attempts to amend the constitution to allow cabins on the Preserve, Woodworth said. The State Land Master Plan, written in the early 1970s, recognizes lean-tos as legal structures in the Forest Preserve.
Evidently, the cabin had no historical value. It was only about a decade old when the Lake George Land Conservancy bought Thomas and nearby Cat Mountain in 2003.
Jamie Brown, the conservancy’s executive director, said the cabin had been the site of drinking parties and other shenanigans. This past summer, he said, the organization’s land steward visited the cabin “and found clothing, backpacks, liquor, prescription drugs, and evidence of shooting (trees, signs, etc., around the cabin all shot up).” The steward also found evidence that people had been setting fires inside the cabin and vandalizing it.
The state purchased both Cat and Thomas from the conservancy. There is a trail connecting the two peaks.