Posts Tagged: designated wilderness areas



Pemigewasset Wilderness, Random History

One of the stone abutments that support the abandoned Trestle No. 16 in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire.
Trestle No. 16 (2010), East Branch & Lincoln Railroad – Pemigewasset Wilderness
 

Pemigewasset Wilderness, Random History – This designated wilderness is the result of one the greatest conservation laws ever passed; the Wilderness Act, which has protected over 109 million acres across the United States. While the history of New Hampshire's Pemigewasset Wilderness mostly revolves around the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, the railroad is not the only interesting piece of history surrounding this unique region of the White Mountains. This blog article features random tidbits of history about this one of a kind designated wilderness area.

One of the grandest pieces of New Hampshire logging railroad history, trestle No. 16 (above) collapsed in late May or early June 2018. Spanning Black Brook, it stood for over 100 years and became a favorite attraction among outdoor enthusiasts. Logging railroads were built to be temporary and its remarkable that this trestle stood for as long as it did. The last log train rolled over this trestle most likely in the summer or fall of 1946.

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Owl’s Head, Conserving Wilderness

Owls Head and the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the Franconia Ridge Trail in New Hampshire.
Owl's Head from Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire
 

Owl’s Head, Conserving Wilderness – This remote 4025-foot mountain in the western region of the federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness creates much debate. The controversy isn’t really about Owl’s Head its more about wilderness management. Hikers unhappy with the management of the Pemigewasset Wilderness use Owl’s Head as a stepping stone to criticize the Wilderness Act.

Established in 1984 under the New Hampshire Wilderness Act, the 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness is managed under the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wilderness Act. Considered to be one of the greatest conservation laws ever passed, the Wilderness Act has protected over 109 million acres across the United States. And yet some are against the Wilderness Act.

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1907 Owl’s Head Mountain Fire

Storm (rain) clouds engulf Owls Head Mountain from the summit of Bondlcliff Mountain in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire during the summer months. Hellgate Ravine is in the foreground.
Storm Clouds over Owl's Mountain Head from Bondcliff, New Hampshire
 

Owl's Head Mountain Fire August 17, 1907 – During the late 1800s and early 1900s, logging activities from railroad logging contributed to a number of forest fires in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Sparks from locomotives were responsible for starting fires along the railroads. And the logging slash (unwanted part of the tree left behind after an area is logged) left on the mountainsides fueled the forest fires.

The infamous August 1907 Owl’s Head Mountain fire in the Pemigewasset Wilderness was started by a lightning strike on the eastern side of Owl’s Head Mountain in an area that had been previously logged by J.E. Henry and Sons. The included color photographs show the general area of where the forest fire took place.

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Definition of Wilderness, White Mountains

Definition of Wilderness, Owls Head from the Franconia Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail), near Little Haystack Mountain, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire during the last days of summer.
Owls Head – Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire
 

Definition of Wilderness, White Mountains – I am currently working on a project that has brought me back into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This wilderness is governed under the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wilderness Act of 1964. And because it is designated wilderness, it has the highest level of protection for federal lands. The recreational opportunities, historical value, and educational platform the Pemigewasset Wilderness offers will educate outdoor enthusiasts for many years to come. It is important that visitors to the region know that the six designated wilderness areas in the White Mountain National Forest are managed differently than the rest of the National Forest. This is where the Wilderness Act comes into play.

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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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Thoreau Falls Trail Bridge, My Viewpoint

Side view of footbridge along the Thoreau Falls Trail, at North Fork Junction, in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire. This bridge is supported by two large white pines and crosses the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River.
Thoreau Falls Trail Bridge (before Irene) – Pemi Wilderness, New Hampshire
 

Thoreau Falls Trail Bridge final decision was made in September 2018. The bridge will be removed without replacement (Alternative 1). Written in November 2015, during the bridge removal review process, the below article lists reasons as to why I support removing the bridge. This is a win for wilderness conservation.

Thoreau Falls Trail Bridge, My Viewpoint – Like many in the New England outdoor community, I have been closely following the Thoreau Falls Trail bridge removal project. I have had interesting conversations as to why the bridge should be replaced, but nothing yet has changed my position, I support removing the bridge from the Pemigewasset Wilderness. I wrote about the issue of this bridge being located in a designated wilderness area back in June, and you can read that blog article here.

It has been brought to my attention that Forest Service is still accepting comments, so I want to pass that along to anyone interested in commenting. Supporters and non-supporters of the bridge removal, if you did not send in comments during the comment period, you still can send them, but do it soon. Today, I am going to share my reasoning as to why I believe the Thoreau Falls Trail bridge should not be replaced. Maybe my comments will influence you to write a letter in support of the bridge removal to Forest Service.

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Designated Wilderness Areas, New Hampshire

Designated wilderness areas, the Pemi Wilderness from Zeacliff Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Pemigewasset Wilderness – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Designated Wilderness Areas, New Hampshire – In 2012, an article Wilderness Under Siege by The Wilderness Society was an eye-opening read about how the 112th Congress was introducing bills that could forever change the well being of America's public lands and wilderness. Conservation NH also complied a list of New Hampshire bills in 2012 all thought to be anti-conservation, dubbed "The Dirty Dozen Bills".

Lastly, a Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 was drafted geared towards designated wilderness areas in New Hampshire. The possible removal of another footbridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness was the likely motive behind this useless, nonconforming resolution.

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