Campton, NH December 11, 2023 — The White Mountain National Forest and multiple partners are the recipients of the U.S. Forest Service’s Region 9 Regional Forester Honor Award. The award, “Reimagining Recreation by Engaging New and Diverse Audiences to Expand Social and Economic Benefit for the Public” is in recognition of the incredible work occurring on the Franconia Loop Trails through a collaboration of staff from the White Mountain National Forest, Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), World Trails Network-Hub for the Americas, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and numerous other trail groups and volunteers.
The popular hiking loop covers both National Forest and NH State Park lands and includes a small segment of the Appalachian Trail. Built between 1826 and 1958, the trails needed significant improvements to make them sustainable for the future generations and more resilient to changing weather patterns and increased use.
When Senator Jeanne Shaheen became aware of the trails’ erosion, public safety concerns and need to improve trail sustainability, she worked to secure the funding to make the restoration project possible. AMC is leading the work on the White Mountain National Forest- Pemigewasset Ranger District under the direction of Forest Service staff. Since congressional funds are only able to be used on federal lands, the World Trails Network- Hub for the Americas secured grant funding to address trail improvements on the Franconia Notch State Park section of the project. The reconstruction project is in the second year of implementation of what is anticipated to take five years to complete.
This holistic approach to managing trails beyond land ownership boundaries showcases the interdependence the managers have for these resources and has been key for an effective project outcome. Many visitors to this popular loop trail are unaware of what land manager oversees which piece of the trail, and for them, the hiking experience is about the loop trail in its entirety. Reimagining recreation by working across landscapes has also encouraged partners and volunteers to work across traditional management boundaries. This collaborative approach to landscape management focuses on uniting and leveraging skills and efficiencies while learning from one another to steward this special place as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts.
Pemigewasset District Ranger, Brooke Brown, said, “We are very proud of the Franconia Loop Trails work and these accomplishments, and we look forward to continuing this important work over the next three years and beyond. The New Hampshire trail community continues to demonstrate the high-quality of work that is possible with partners and volunteers working together and working towards a combined vision to benefit the public.”
Franconia Loop Trail Partners (photo courtesy of AMC)
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