Posts Categorized: Conservation



Pemigewasset Wilderness, Conservation Success

A hiker takes in the view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the summit of Zeacliff during the summer months. This viewpoint offers an excellent view of the wilderness area.
Pemigewasset Wilderness from Zeacliff, New Hampshire
 

Pemigewasset Wilderness, Conservation Success – The 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness is the result of one the greatest conservation laws ever passed; The Wilderness Act. Unlike in today’s world where everyone wants to gut the Wilderness Act for selfish reasons, the creators of the Wilderness Act were truly concerned about the well being of our wild places. The Wilderness Act has protected over 109 million acres across the United States.

Some of you may recognize the above image from Zeacliff Mountain because a similar image is on the cover of the 29th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. I look at this image from time to time and think about the solitude I have found in the Pemigewasset Wilderness over the years. I also try to imagine how the Pemigewasset Wilderness would look if it was a 45,000-acre condo development.

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Hand of Man in Nature

Hand of man scene. Mount Monroe with Mount Washington in the background from the Appalachian Trail in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire.
Mount Monroe – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Hand of Man in Nature, White Mountains – Last week I wrote about how some photographers believe that a true landscape or nature scene is a scene that is absent of all human elements. The scene itself showcases the pure beauty of nature. Well, the opposite of the pure nature scene is the hand of man scene, which includes human elements. Can you see the human element in the above scene?

I prefer to create images that include the hand of man only because they show the interaction we have with the environment. When some people hear the “hand of man” they think of the negative impact that we are doing to the environment. But in photography, the hand of man scene is not always focused on negative impact.

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Pure Nature Scenes, White Mountains

Black Pond on the side of Black Pond Trail in Lincoln, New Hampshire. This forest was logged during the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad era, which as was a logging railroad in operation from 1893-1948.
Black Pond – Lincoln, New Hampshire
 

Pure Nature Scenes, White Mountains – In photography, many organizations and photographers consider a true nature scene to be a scene that is absent of any human elements. The scene itself showcases the pure beauty of nature. So keeping with the spirit of nature photography here are a few nature scenes that represent the New Hampshire White Mountains.

Admittedly, I prefer to include the hand of man in my images mainly because it shows our influence on nature. A pile of trash left in the middle of a pristine wilderness is the classic example. Of all the impact we do to nature, for some reason, trash upsets outdoor enthusiasts the most. But that is for another day today it is all about pure nature scenes.

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A Wilderness Bridge vs. an Alpine Zone Hotel

Mount Washington from the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Mount Washington Cog Railway – General Area of the Skyline Switch
 

A Wilderness Bridge vs. an Alpine Zone Hotel – Talk throughout the White Mountains and New England has been about a proposal made by the Cog Railway to “possibly” build a hotel and restaurant on the side of Mount Washington. The proposal itself has created disbelief among many. And I have to admit that I am still shocked that a group would even consider damaging the fragile alpine environment to expand a business venture.

But the reality is this scenario has been playing out throughout the White Mountains in different ways. There are many examples, but the best one is the proposed removal of the footbridge along the Thoreau Falls Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The Thoreau Falls Trail bridge has become a safety concern, and Forest Service has proposed to remove it. Much like the proposed hotel it has become a heated issue.

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Cog Railway Hotel Proposal, Mt Washington

Mount Washington from Mount Clay in Thompson and Meserve's Purchase, New Hampshire.
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.

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Mount Tecumseh Vandalism, Illegal Cutting

Stumps of trees illegally cut in 2013 are cut flush with the ground on the summit of Mount Tecumseh in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
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.

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Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire

July 2016 - Newly built stone steps along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire during the month of July. Minimal stonework should be done along trails, and it should look natural and blend in with the surroundings.
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.”

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