White Mountain National Forest

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Sometime next year an official with the White Mountain National Forest will try to answer a complex question: How wild should the wilderness be?

The issue is whether to remove – or replace - a decrepit bridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area.

Department of Energy

Last week Eversource official Lee Olivier told analysts that the company still thinks completely burying the Northern Pass line is “unnecessary” and “prohibitively expensive.”

But, he said, some additional burial might be possible.

That comes in response to the release of a new report from the Department of Energy that includes a look at the issue.

For years opponents of the controversial Northern Pass project have contended the overhead transmission lines could be buried.

And Northern Pass officials have insisted burial is too expensive.

Grace Family via Flickr Creative Commons


The White Mountain National Forest has a new deputy forest supervisor.

Clare Mendelsohn has been an environmental professional in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years, with the last 11 spent in San Francisco as director of the Western Regional Environmental Office. She gained experience there in partnering for landscape scale conservation and natural resources management.

In 2013, she started working for the U.S. Forest Service in the position of public service team leader on the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The hard-core hikers call it the grid, the big list.

Perhaps you know someone who has walked up all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks. It’s a lot less likely, but maybe you’ve even met someone who has hiked them in the winter. But for the most resolute hikers, even that’s not enough. They strive to hike every 4,000-footer in every month of the year...that’s 576 hikes.

It took more than a decade, but on Wednesday New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley got to check off the 576th box in his grid.

via WhiteMountainHistory.org

One of the oldest structures in the White Mountain National Forest is being restored.

Built by the U.S. Forest Service, Fabyan Guard Station is a one-room log cabin on Cherry Mountain Road in the Bretton Woods area. It was built in 1923 and is the last example of a guard station in the forest.

Employees called forest guards were once stationed in these remote cabins.

White Mountains, NH
Bryan Pocius / Flickr Creative Commons

Campgrounds in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest are open, but the Forest Service is warning people that some areas still have snow, and spring melt-off can lead to some slippery footing.  The Forest Service says heavy rainfall and slower seasonal changes also can cause stream crossings to be high and footing slick. Campers also need to be wary of bears and invasive insects.  Campers are advised to properly store all food and drink, and empty food wrappers.  Campers can introduce invasive insects to the area by bringing firewood from home; they need to buy firewood locally.

The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites, including those in the White Mountain National Forest, over the Veterans Day holiday weekend.    Forest fees have been waived from Saturday through Monday.    Fees will remain in effect for overnight camping, cabin rentals, permits, reservations, and concession activities.      

Walsh TD via Flickr Creative Commons

Following the resolution of the partial government shutdown, officials at the White Mountain National Forest say they’ll be back to a full staff of 120 employees by the end of the week.

Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner says he received official word late Wednesday night, and began calling employees back to work first thing Thursday morning.

“I probably have about 50 percent of my workforce back now, and the remainder will be up and operational tomorrow at 8 o’clock in the morning.”

The shutdown forced the national forest to cut its staff down to roughly 16 employees.

New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte is applauding a deal reached by Senate leadership to raise the debt ceiling and bring an end to the partial government shutdown.

Appearing on MSNBC this afternoon, Ayotte, a Republican, says the shutdown went on far too long.

“And that’s why I’m glad we got out of our trenches, that we’re resolving this, that we are moving on. And I’m hoping that we can solve the greater fiscal challenges facing the nation by coming together.”

Chris Jensen for NHPR

The operator of twenty-two campgrounds in The White Mountain National Forest has been told to close them.

“We are directed now to close the gates as of Thursday the 10th unless something happens in Congress,” said Kent Tower, the owner of Pro Sports of Campton.

Last week federal officials in Washington began notifying private businesses that operate campgrounds in national forests that they would have to close even though they provide water, sanitation and other services without help from federal employees.

The shutdown of the federal government is expanding to include privately run campgrounds in national forests across the country, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said late Thursday.

“We are in the process of shutting these operations down at facilities across the country due to the lapse in funding,” wrote spokesman Leo Kay in an e-mail. “Some closures have already taken place while others are still in progress.”

That is expected to include twenty-two campgrounds in The White Mountain National Forest operated by Pro Sports Inc. of Campton.

Grace Family via Flickr Creative Commons

The extent to which the federal shutdown will hurt the White Mountain National Forest – and tourism - will depend on how long the shutdown continues, says forest supervisor Tom Wagner.

Wagner says the current workforce – about 120 people – will be cut to sixteen.

That’s to cover 800,000 acres.

People can still enjoy the views and the trails. But there’s a question about facilities.

Walsh TD via Flickr Creative Commons

If the federal government shuts down at midnight it will affect the White Mountain National Forest at a time when many tourists are headed there for fall foliage.

The White Mountain National Forest covers about 800,000 acres and normally has about 120 full or part-time employees, says Tom Wagner, the forest supervisor.

If the federal government shuts down more than 100 of them will be off work.

“Sixteen of those employees between our law enforcement and our line officers at each office will continue to work if this is an extended shutdown," Wagner said.

The People's Forest

Jul 15, 2013
David Huntley

“The People’s Forest” a new film about the White Mountain National Forest by filmmaker David Huntley premieres next Tuesday. The 48 minute documentary examines a dramatic period in the life of New Hampshire’s great woods from 1860 to 1910 and shows how the human forces that conspired to nearly destroy the land came together again to save it.  Sean Hurley spoke with the filmmaker and has this story.  

With rain and thunderstorms expected today and tonight - and possibly later this week - The White Mountain National Forest is warning visitors to be wary of water.

“We don’t want them to underestimate the power of water,” said Tiffany Benna, a spokeswoman for The White Mountain National Forest.

Benna says heavy rain or a thunderstorm can result in surprising and dangerous changes in just a few hours.

“The water levels can change daily, even hourly,” she said.

So, a stream that was easily forded in the morning could become impassable a few hours later.

The White Mountain National Forest is getting some help with repairing damage done by Tropical Storm Irene.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

The White Mountain National Forest got some good news from the non-profit National Forest Foundation Wednesday.

That’s according to Tom Wagner, the White Mountain National Forest supervisor.

“They hope to raise a $1 million of private funds that would be matched by a $1 million of Forest Service funds.”

Chris Jensen / NHPR

It was a year ago at the end of this month that Tropical Storm Irene hit New Hampshire and when it comes to the White Mountain National Forest there are still plenty of unwelcome reminders.

Sound of ground-to-helicopter communications…

That’s Erin Lane and she’s making arrangements for a helicopter to make a sweeping turn and then hover over a clearing about two miles up the Zealand Trail in a part of Bethlehem that is within the White Mountain National Forest.

The Croo of Greenleaf Hut: Fun at 4,220 feet

Jul 27, 2012
Todd Bookman / NHPR

New Hampshire’s White Mountains are known for their fierce terrain and wild weather. But atop the high peaks, there are some comforts.

Since 1888, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s high huts have provided hearty meals and a warm bunk for guests. Staff at the eight facilities carry up supplies, and also serve as educators and stewards of the alpine terrain.

To get a better feel for this unique summer job, we sent NHPR’s Todd Bookman up to the Greenleaf Hut.

White Mountain National Forest

Tropical Storm Irene’s heavy rains did more serious damage to trails in the White Mountains than any storm in decades, says one of the authors of the new 29th edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide.

“It was only a limited number of trails, but the ones that were damaged were damaged very badly,” said editor Steven Smith of Lincoln. “It was mainly restricted to the trails that run along streams.”


The White Mountain National Forest will be getting $4 million in federal funds to repair road and bridge damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.  But that will still leave the enormous recreational area well short of what it needs, an official said.

It is still a bit of good news for the economy of the North Country.

Some of the work will be done by WMNF crews but help from outside contractors will be needed, said Tiffany Benna, a spokeswoman for the WMNF.

The money is available from the Federal Highway Administration, said spokesman Doug Hecox.