Access to Historic Hiking Trails Permanently Protected (NH)

RANDOLPH, N.H., 6/3/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service today announced the conservation of 100 acres that permanently protects access to two historic and popular hiking trails. These trails-the Randolph Path and Sylvan Way-provide public pedestrian access to the Presidential Range, America’s highest mountain range east of the Mississippi River and north of the Smoky Mountains. The land is now part of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).

Funding for the acquisition came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund secured by the New Hampshire congressional delegation led by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg-a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee which oversees funding for the Forest Service-and U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes.

“Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, protection of critical lands within our national forest would be close to impossible,” said Rodger Krussman, New Hampshire State Director for TPL. “Senator Gregg, Congressman Hodes, and other members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation have consistently fought to secure funding from the federal program to make sure recreational and access lands like Randolph Path are not lost forever. TPL is extremely grateful for their long standing commitment to conservation in New Hampshire.”

Sen. Gregg stated, “I am pleased to recognize the commitment The Trust for Public Land has again demonstrated to protecting the special places in our state. All of us here in New Hampshire love and cherish the White Mountains. Not only do they harbor an incredibly diverse natural ecosystem but they have played a major role in shaping the culture and heritage of our state. Today’s announcement is great news. This project will enhance the deep enjoyment that residents and visitors experience when they come to the White Mountains.”

“This funding will improve a national treasure, preserve our environment, and most importantly, it will create jobs for New Hampshire families,” Congressman Paul Hodes said. “This trail will help preserve pedestrian access to White Mountain National Forest and I have been glad to work with The Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Forest Service on this important project.”

The Randolph Path property is part of TPL’s overall White Mountain Conservation Initiative, and in particular, the WMNF Trail Protection Partnership with Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the WMNF. TPL’s White Mountains Conservation Initiative is a collaborative effort to protect key forestlands and secure public access to critical trailheads and hiking paths in the White Mountains. Since 1998, TPL has worked with the Forest Service and a variety of conservation organizations to conserve eight trail and trailheads, protect over 20 miles of trails, and conserve other significant properties totaling almost 25,000 acres, including the creation of the Randolph Community Forest in 2001.

The Randolph Path and Sylvan Way, which originate close to US Route 2, are easily accessible to hikers from across New Hampshire and the region. Both footpaths have an important place in the storied history of the White Mountains. Randolph Path, considered one of the region’s classic hikes, dates to the 1890s and was created in part by one of the White Mountain’s most famous trail makers, J. Rayner Edmands. Sylvan Way dates to the 1880s, when four of Randolph’s best-known path makers created a short trail designed specifically for waterfall excursions along Cold Brook, Snyder Brook, and Bumpus Brook. The group included two of the most famous woman climbers of that era, the mother-daughter team of Lucia and Marian Pychowska.

“This acquisition came about as a result of the wonderful efforts of The Trust for Public Land and the support of key Congressionals who voiced that this land be conserved. It provides permanent protection for the Randolph Path and Sylvan Way trails, linking hiking trail access to the Northern Presidentials, while linking conserved land on each side of this acquisition,” said White Mountain National Forest Androscoggin District Ranger Katie Stuart. “Thanks to TPL and our other supporters, this land will be forever open to the public where nature awaits to provide the companionship of forests and spectacular scenery.”

“This project is part of AMC’s long-term commitment to protecting important trails within the White Mountain National Forest,” said Walter Graff, Deputy Director of AMC. “Thanks to the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, TPL, and the WMNF, these historic and important trails will provide public access to the northern Presidential Range for generations to come.”

“With thousands of hikers enjoying these trails each year, likely without ever knowing that they are crossing private land, permanent protection will now ensure future generations the opportunity to experience the beauty and awe of the Presidential Range,” added Krussman.

The 100-acre Randolph Path property supports important wildlife habitat. In the state’s Wildlife Action Plan, the property is ranked as Tier 1,the highest quality habitat in New Hampshire. The property connects to other conserved habitat lands on its east, west, and south sides, and is part of the Moose River watershed, a key drinking water supply for Gorham.

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.