National forest encourages visitors to plan ahead

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, you may be planning to visit the White Mountain National Forest. Whether you are thinking about a get-away-from-it-all camping experience, your first hike of the season, or a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, forest officials encourage you to plan ahead.
Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Weather in the White Mountains can be unpredictable and rain, snow and fog are possible at any time of the year. While it may be sunny and warm where you are, it may still be winter in the mountains. Always check the forecast before visiting and if need be consider postponing your hike — the mountains will be there another day. At any time of year you should be prepared with warm clothing and good rain gear. Expect the worst and enjoy the best!
Always remember to hikeSafe! Remember you are responsible for yourself – and don't rely solely on a cell phone to keep you safe. Cell phones have limited coverage on many of the forest's trails and in campgrounds due to the mountainous terrain. For information to help you plan a safe hike go to the hikeSafe website at www.hikesafe.com/.
"We're all ready to get out and enjoy the national forest after a long winter," said forest supervisor Tom Wagner. "Taking some time to plan ahead will help ensure everyone enjoys a safe summer kickoff."
The lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams of the White Mountain National Forest are beautiful, but slippery rocks, hazards below the surface, and the strength of moving water can all affect your safety. As the snow melts in the mountains, rivers and streams may be running faster and deeper than expected. Some stream crossings are high and can be dangerous and unpredictable. Always be responsible and assess the hazards and your risks before entering any section of water.
Many visitors may not remember that in 2011 Tropical Storm Irene caused $10 million of damage to forest roads, bridges, recreation sites, and trails. While the forest service, along with our partners, have restored and repaired many of the areas, there are still restoration projects left to do. Fortunately, the White Mountain National Forest was selected to participate in the National Forest Foundation's Treasured Landscape campaign. They are working to raise $1 million to match $1 million of forest service funds to continue the storm restoration work. (see www.nationalforests.org/treasured) Work will continue this summer so check our website for information.
National forest campgrounds are open for the summer. These campgrounds are in forested environments and you may experience a visit from a bear if you have unprotected food in your site. Always store food, coolers and other scented items (toothpaste, deodorant) in a locked vehicle or bear resistant container. With the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer in Concord, concerns over the potential for campers to introduce invasive insects to the area by bringing firewood from home continue. Campers should purchase their firewood locally and recognize the Forest Order that prohibits bringing firewood from out of state into the Forest.
No matter what your plans are, don't forget to pack your insect repellent! Black fly season usually runs from about mid-May to about mid-June depending on the weather.
More information about the White Mountain National Forest, safety, bears, and recreation opportunities, is available on the forest web site http://www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.