BARTLETT — Bartlett selectmen are opposing the White Mountain National Forest's proposal to close the 83-year-old Mount Langdon Trail shelter.
The National Forest is seeking comments from the public by Sept. 19.
Langdon Trail is located off of Cobb Farm Road, which runs parallel to the Saco River north of Bartlett Village. The shelter is about 3 miles off the trail.
According to alltrails.com, “Langdon Trail is a 6.9-mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Bartlett, New Hampshire, that features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips and bird watching, and is best used from March until October.”
Saco District Ranger Jim Innes told the Sun the shelter isn’t used very much, is falling into disrepair and is becoming unsafe.
“We can’t afford to maintain all of these structures in the woods,” said Innes, who noted that when the shelters have to be repaired materials, are flown in by helicopter. “We have to pick and choose what we spend money on.”
Innes said it makes more sense to focus on structures that see more traffic.
On Aug. 19, Forest Archaeologist and Heritage Program Manager Sarah Jordan put out a public notice on “Proposed removal of historic WMNF hiking shelter,” inviting the public to “participate in the process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to resolve the adverse effect to the WMNF Hiking Shelter System Historic District that will result from the removal of this shelter.”
According to the notice, “The Mt. Langdon shelter is a historic log Adirondack-style lean-to hiking shelter, built in 1936 by the Civilian Coservation Corps (CCC).
“The tradition of hiking shelter construction in the White Mountains goes back more than 100 years. In 1935, the WMNF began to build shelters that followed the new standard ‘USFS Plan for Forest Camp Adirondack Shelter.’ These shelters, 16’4” wide by 11’6” deep and 9 feet high at the ridgepole, were built of peeled horizontal logs 8-10 inches in diameter, notched at the back corners with half-cut log joints,” the notice said.
Jordan, said only two of these are still standing: Coppermine shelter (built in 1935, in Easton) and Mt. Langdon. “The removal of the Mt. Langdon shelter will result in the loss of a historic shelter that contributes to the significance of the WMNF Hiking Shelter System Historic District,” she said. “As mitigation for the adverse effect, the WMNF is proposing to maintain and preserve the Coppermine shelter ... as the last remaining example of this shelter style and the CCC legacy of shelter bilding on the MNF. In addition, the Mt. Langdon shelter has been documented with measured drawings” that will be on file with the forest.
On Aug. 27, Bartlett selectmen wrote to Jordan saying they “strongly oppose” the removal of the shelter. The letter was signed by all three selectmen: Chairman Gene Chandler, Vicki Garland and David Patch. Chandler, who is a former New Hampshire House Speaker, provided a copy of the letter to the Sun. The letter says the shelter continues to be a place where families can take children to look at the forest and is also a “safe haven” for those who get caught in bad weather or other emergencies.
“While we appreciate the decision to leave the Coppermine Shelter, we submit that while it would be advantageous to leave both, certainly from the point of benefits provided, the Mt. Langdon shelter is the one that should remain,” the letter states.
“Since both of these shelters have been labeled historic it seems unnecessary to remove either one of them. History is something that should be relished and when we have the chance to maintain history, without question we should do so,” the Bartlett selectmen wrote.
As of Friday, Innes said he had not been contacted by selectmen about the matter.
Anyone wishing to comment on the situation or receive more information is asked to contact Sarah Jordan, White Mountain National Forest Heritage Program Manager, by Sept. 19.
Jordan can be reached at email@example.com or (603) 536-5640 or by writing to Sarah Jordan, 71 White Mountain Drive, Campton, NH 03223.