COVID-19 Pandemic – White Mountains, New Hampshire (Sept. 2020)
2020 Human Impact, White Mountains – During these strange times, like many of you, I have been trying to stay safe and worrying about family and friends. I also have watched the New Hampshire White Mountains get trashed over the last few months. While human impact (overuse) is not a new problem here in the White Mountains, it has gotten much worse during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Being a native of New Hampshire, I hate seeing the White Mountains being treated so poorly. I have never seen such a lack of respect for nature. However, overuse has been a problem throughout the history of the White Mountains. And with the surge in outdoor recreation in the 21st-century, this was bound to happen again. And even in today’s conservation minded-society, there is still no easy solution to the problem.
Beware of Vandalism – New Hampshire
Vandalism, White Mountains – I have been reminiscing about all the conversations I have had this year. And a common topic among many outdoor enthusiasts is all the vandalism in the White Mountains. So today’s blog article focuses on the keyword search term “vandalism”. And this imagery is intended to create awareness for a very concerning issue here in the New Hampshire White Mountains. However, keep in mind that some outdoor enthusiasts feel some of the below acts of vandalism are perfectly acceptable.
When creating awareness for the impact we have on the environment, the norm in today’s outdoor world is to use breathtaking landscape photos of a region. But as an environmental / conservation photographer, when creating awareness for the White Mountains environment, I prefer to use photos that show the impact. I believe showing the actual damage leaves a lasting impression on outdoor enthusiasts. And it influences us to practice “Leave No Trace” and be better stewards of the land.
Presidential Range – Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, New Hampshire
Greed and Selfishness, White Mountains – As the new year progresses, I find myself re-evaluating my values as both an environmental photographer and outdoor enthusiast. The sacred places I love and cherish in the New Hampshire White Mountains are all falling victim to the greedy hand of man.
The trail system is being vandalized in different ways, the fragile alpine zone is being trampled, and designated wilderness areas are under constant attack by the new anti-conservationist movement. And with social media being what it is, many want social recognition, so they leave their mark everywhere in the White Mountains.
Mount Washington Cog Railway – General Area of the Skyline Switch
Cog Railway Hotel Proposal, Mt Washington – As you look at the above image can you imagine a 35 room hotel along the Cog Railway in the area you see? I know, it seems far-fetched. But the reality is the Mount Washington Cog Railway is in the early stages of “possibly” building a lodge and restaurant in the area of the Skyline switch along the railway. I am not joking, a hotel in the fragile alpine zone environment.
Public information suggests the proposed hotel will be along the railroad about a mile below the summit, near the Skyline switch. I believe the Skyline switch is in the above section of the railroad (behind the rock cairn). The included images help visualize the general area of the proposed hotel building site on Mount Washington.
July 2014, Fresh Cutting – Mt Tecumseh, New Hampshire
Mount Tecumseh Vandalism, Illegal Cutting – 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 the issues. After 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.
New Staircase (2016) – Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire
Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire – For five years (2011-2016), I documented issues on Mt Tecumseh in New Hampshire. In my opinion, what has happened to the Mt Tecumseh Trail over the last few years is a disgusting display of conservation and trail stewardship. The new stonework built along this trail is all about quantity, not quality, and I question what low impact, sustainable, trail work is.
In August 2016, for the second time since 2012, the Pemigewasset District of Forest Service, at the request of the Washington Office, inspected the ongoing stonework along the Mt Tecumseh Trail. According to a letter I received from Forest Service Supervisor, Tom Wagner, the stonework is “satisfactory” for Forest Service Trail construction standards. And they did find issues that would be taken care of in the future. The definition of satisfactory is “fulfilling expectations or needs; acceptable, though not outstanding or perfect.”
Mt. Willard Section House Site – Maine Central Railroad, Crawford Notch
Mt Willard Section House Vandalism – In April 2016 the Conway Scenic Railroad, on their Facebook page, posted that the Evan’s family monument at the Mt Willard Section House site had been recently vandalized. I visited the section house site last month and was disappointed to see the vandalism. The monument looks to be permanently damaged.
The Mt. Willard Section House site is located along the old Maine Central Railroad in New Hampshire, next to the historic Willey Brook Trestle, in Crawford Notch. Since 1995 the Conway Scenic Railroad, which provides passenger excursion trains, has been using the track.