Mount Tecumseh Cutting, My Viewpoint – When I first went public with the environmental issues on Mount Tecumseh, I was warned that my business would become the focal point of a smear campaign if I continued to cover Mount Tecumseh. After five years of covering issues on this mountain, I can say that the harassment I have received has not deterred me from creating awareness for the human impact on Mount Tecumseh.
According to Forest Service, the cutting on New Hampshire's Mount Tecumseh is illegal, and is considered vandalism to National Forest land. As far as I know, Forest Service's law enforcement division is still actively investigating the cutting. For my involvement, as a photographer, I have been unofficially volunteering my time to document the cutting. I am against this type of vandalism, and report any findings to Forest Service.
Over the last few years, illegal cutting has improved the small viewpoint (above) on Mount Tecumseh. I started documenting issues on this mountain in 2011. And to the best I can recall, this is when I started noticing small amounts of cutting on the summit. At first, it was just a few trees cut here and there, but then a large section was cut away in 2013. Other areas of the summit also had been cut during this time frame. The cutting appears to have stopped for now, but this issue is part of a concerning trend happening here in the White Mountains.
As an environmental photographer, I am concerned with the precedents this illegal cutting is creating. No one person has the right to decide if there should be a view from Mount Tecumseh. But for some reason, some people think they are entitled to leave their mark everywhere they go in the White Mountains. And this mindset is trashing the White Mountains. The cutting on Mount Tecumseh is part of this “trashing” trend.
The higher elevations of the White Mountains are home to rare bird habitat. Mountain birdwatch results indicate that between 2000 and 2009 Bicknell's Thrush, an extremely rare species with very limited breeding grounds, was detected on Mount Tecumseh. So this illegal cutting could possibly be destroying bird habitat. Do you think the ones doing the cutting care about bird habitat?
From July 2013 – October 1, 2013 (see the above images) the summit was cut at least four different times. This information alone suggests that the person or persons doing the cutting frequently visits the summit. The ones who visit the summit regularly can be narrowed down to specific groups. And the claims of skiers doing the cutting seems to have no merit at this point. But can’t be fully ruled out.
Don't get me wrong I love a great view just like everyone else, but this isn’t about the view. The issue here is that the cutting is illegal and goes against the ethics of conservation. In the conservation movement, the cutting on Mount Tecumseh is vandalism to National Forest land. And it is no different than graffiti painted on rocks or trash intentionally left on National Forest land. Whoever is doing the cutting has no respect for the environment.
On one of my monthly visits to photograph the summit cutting, I met a hiker who said he knew who did some of the cutting. According to this hiker allegedly a Forest Service volunteer cut the path (above) and viewpoint on the ski side of the summit. If Forest Service determines any volunteers are involved with the cutting on Mount Tecumseh, they need to ban those volunteers from ever doing volunteer work again in the White Mountains.
There has been much talk lately as to how social media is impacting (both good and bad) outdoor recreation in the White Mountain National Forest. And in my own opinion, the cutting on Mount Tecumseh is being done for social recognition. If there were no social media outlets, none of this would be happening.
Most environmental issues start off small and become bigger issues over time if nothing is done to stop them. And this is where we are at now with the illegal cutting on Mount Tecumseh. Forest Service has put a sign on the summit (above) that explains the legal ramifications if caught cutting trees on the summit. It seems to have worked for now. But I suspect the cutting will start again when the parties involved thinks it is safe to do so.
The vandalism on the summit is only a part of the issues on Mount Tecumseh. And even though I am no longer documenting the Tecumseh Trail, I may continue to cover the cutting. If you know who is cutting the summit, turn them into Forest Service's law enforcement division. Help end this “trashing” trend of the White Mountains.
You can license any of the above images for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view a public timeline of the summit cutting here.
Happy image making..
This opinion article is intended to create awareness for the White Mountains environment. The information included in this blog article is based on five years of documenting issues on Mount Tecumseh.