Pemigewasset Wilderness from Zeacliff, New Hampshire
The Pemigewasset Wilderness, Random Thoughts – For 2017, I am going to write one blog article a month that is focused on my random thoughts as an environmental photographer living in the New Hampshire White Mountains. I will remain professional when sharing my thoughts but will be a little freer than normal.
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 (45,000 acres) over the years. I also try to imagine how the Pemigewasset Wilderness would look if it was a 45,000-acre condo development.
Thoreau Falls Trail Bridge – Pemi Wilderness, New Hampshire
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.
Thoreau Falls Bridge – White Mountains, New Hampshire
Thoreau Falls Trail, Bridge Removal – In August of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused massive erosion damage to the White Mountains trail system in New Hampshire. Some trails were damaged so badly that they have been permanently closed (Flume Brook Trail in Waterville Valley has been decommissioned). And to this day trail crews are still repairing Irene damaged trails.
Deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, at North Fork junction, along the Thoreau Falls Trail, a beloved bridge that crosses the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. The bridge is now listed to be dismantled on the Forest Services Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA). A final decision should haven been made by the end of 2015, but it now appears the decision won’t be made until the summer of 2016 (this is updated information).
November 2013, Pemigewasset Wilderness Bridge Removal – The remaining debris from the Pemi Wilderness suspension bridge removal project, along the East Branch of the Pemi, in the New Hampshire White Mountains appears to have been removed out of the designated wilderness area. The debris is now outside of the wilderness boundary along the Pemi East Side Trail. Some debris remains at Black Brook bridge, which was also removed during this project.
Since 2009, when the bridge was removed, I have been making regular trips to the bridge site to document the progress of debris removal. Unforeseen issues turned the debris removal into a 3 + year long project. Above is a slideshow showing the progression of debris removal over the last 3 years from the bridge site.
J.E. Henry Burial Site (1831 – 1912) – Glenwood Cemetery, Littleton
James E. Henry (1831 – April 19, 1912) – History indicates that James E. Henry died on April 19, 1912. He was a 19th / 20th century timber baron best known for his logging practices and building of the Zealand Valley and East Branch & Lincoln Railroads (1893-1948) in the New Hampshire White Mountains. He forever changed the landscape of the White Mountains with his "cut it all" logging practices.
Mount Chocorua, White Mountain National Forest
Is it possible for today's conversation photographers not to get involved with the politics needed to protect New Hampshire's wild places? Ten years ago I would have said yes, but today I just don't know?
For most conservation minded groups, the vision of New Hampshire’s wild places is easy to understand. It is all about protecting the forests from human impact, hence the Wilderness Act. Wilderness protection is a very simple concept, but it ensures future generations will be able to enjoy the national forests. I guess it should be no surprise groups are attempting to invade these wild places for personal benefit.