White Mountain Trailhead Protected (NH)

Albany, New Hampshire, 11/14/01– The White Mountain National Forest and the Trust for Public Land announced today the addition of 60 acres in Albany to the National Forest, concluding a two-year effort to permanently protect the property. Located behind Route 16 just north of Chocorua Lake, the land lies adjacent to the National Forest and includes the base of the Piper Trail, which leads to the summit of Mt. Chocorua. Thanks to the leadership of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, especially Senator Judd Gregg and Rep. Charlie Bass, Congress appropriated nearly $400,000 from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for the purchase last year.

“The purchase of these 60 acres will guarantee public access to one of the most visited trails in the White Mountain National Forest. I was pleased to work to ensure the necessary funding was brought to this project through my position on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee,” said Senator Judd Gregg. “The White Mountains are some of the most breathtaking forestland in the entire nation, and with the purchase of this land in Albany, New Hampshire, residents and visitors for generations to come will be able to enjoy its beauty.”

“The White Mountain National Forest provides a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities and holds some of the state’s most outstanding natural resources,” said Representative Charlie Bass. “I congratulate the Trust for Public Land and everyone who pooled resources to complete the purchase of this key trailhead property and protect public access to the forest for our enjoyment today and for future generations.”

“We are delighted to be announcing the protection of the Piper Trailhead,” said Rodger Krussman, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “TPL began working on this project roughly two years ago, and in September 2000, we purchased the Piper Trailhead property to hold it off the market until it could be acquired by the National Forest. This project is part of our long-term commitment to protecting important trails within the National Forest.”

Tom Wagner, acting forest supervisor of the White Mountain National Forest, said, “The commitment of Senator Gregg, Congressman Bass, and the Trust for Public Land has once again enabled the Forest Service to acquire valuable public access to the White Mountain National Forest. I appreciate the hard work and perseverance needed to complete a project of this importance.”

First appearing on a map in 1875, the Piper Trail leads to Mount Chocorua, one of the most popular summits in the White Mountains, and provides connections to many other trails, including the Nickerson Ledge and Champney Falls Trails. According to the National Forest, approximately 14,000 people use the Piper Trail annually.

According to Cathy McKenzie, chairman of Albany’s Board of Selectmen, “When this project was initially proposed, the Albany Board of Selectmen was skeptical that adding more land to the National Forest was in the best interest of our community. However, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land staff worked hard to address our concerns, and in the end we felt that it made sense for the national forest to own this trailhead. Now the trail will be more visible and easier to access, the parking will be improved, and hopefully more people will use it. Since Albany doesn’t have a town green or post office, this may help put us on the map a bit.”

With partial support from the Martin Foundation, the Trust for Public Land, Appalachian Mountain Club, and White Mountain National Forest recently updated an inventory of trails within the National Forest. This study found that, of the nearly 400 hiking trails that enter the National Forest, 89 originate on or traverses private land. The potential for restrictions on public access and development of private lands continue to threaten public use of these trails. Over the past 15 years, land sales and development have forced the abandonment of seven trails and the relocations of at least 15 others. Trail abandonment reduces public access overall while causing more intensive use of the remaining trails, thereby leading to overuse and trail erosion.

“People may not realize access to many of their favorite trails is not completely secured. This cooperative effort to permanently protect the Piper Trailhead goes a long way toward ensuring continued public access to this popular part of the National Forest,” said Heather Clish, director of trails and riverways stewardship for the Appalachian Mountain Club. Following up on the study, the three organizations have launched the White Mountain Trailhead Partnership, with the goal of protecting as many of the National Forest’s trails as possible.

One of the Partnership’s key supporters is the National Forest Foundation, which recently granted $25,000 to support the effort. “This collaborative effort demonstrates how recreation and conservation can be linked together in a complementary and positive manner,” said Bill Possiel, president of the National Forest Foundation. “The hard work and forward-thinking that went into this creative endeavor will help ensure high quality recreational opportunities on the White Mountain National Forest for present and future generations.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 10,000 acres in New Hampshire. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit www.tpl.org.