PINKHAM’S NOTCH — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) visited the soon-to-be-renovated historic trail to Glen Ellis Falls Day Use Area on Thursday while traveling north on Route 16 from Conway to Berlin. She used the short hike as an opportunity to discuss the large backlog of maintenance projects on the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), on which these falls are located, halfway between Jackson and Gorham.
Shaheen also highlighted the importance of fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that helps preserve and maintain parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreational areas, such as Glen Ellis Falls, in New Hampshire and across the country.“
The Senate passed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act by an overwhelming margin, 73 to 25,” explained Shaheen, who served as one of its cosponsors. The legislation, which would permanently fund the LWCF and also pay for 5 years of deferred maintenance on public lands is now awaiting action in the House of Representatives, she said. The President has said he would sign the bill if it does come to his desk.
The Collective has three other projects on the docket this year: Thin Air Face at Cathedral Ledge and 2 mountain bike trails.
There is an estimated total of $43 million in deferred maintenance projects in the Granite State, of which $34 million are on the WMNF, Shaheen explained. “This could be a post-COVID-19 ‘back-to-work’ effort that would have a major positive economic impact,” she added.
Shaheen thanked the members of the U.S. Forest Service who were on hand, as well as their colleagues, for their daily efforts in protecting the nation’s natural resources. Among those on hand from the U.S.F.S. were Androscoggin District Ranger Jennifer Barnhart, Androscoggin Assistant Ranger Travis Pellerin, and Forest Recreation and Wilderness Program Assistant Ranger Stan Carte.
Here in northern New Hampshire, Shaheen noted, the WMNF and other federal lands, such as the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park in Cornish, play an important role in attracting tourists and outdoor recreationalists.
The senator was interested in the details of the 10-week restoration/renovation of the Glen Ellis Falls project. “Funding is coming to the White Mountain Trail Collective as a project grant from the nonprofit National Forest Foundation, headquartered in Missoula, MT, and is a combination of donor funds and USFS cost-share funds,” explained WMNF public affairs specialist Colleen Mainville. “The total budget is $150,000.”
White Mountain Trail Collective executive director Melanie Luce maintains an office in Plymouth. WMTC assistant project manager Ally Scholtz will be on site at Glen Ellis every work day. For safety reasons, the Day Use Area is closed to the public for approximately 10 weeks. The Collective is working on 3 other projects this year: Thin Air Face at Cathedral Ledge and 2 mountain bike trails.
Also on hand were Gorham town manager Denise Vallee, executive director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Janice Crawford, superintendent of the North Conway water precinct Jason Gagnon and retired WMNF forester Dave Govatski of Jefferson.