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Thread: Thoreau Falls Bridge Removal - 30 Comment Period for Revised Assessment

  1. #16
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    I prefer to take a bit more active involvement with government. Yes if may be railing at windmills but I would rather do something then complain after fact like happened on the Pemi suspension bridge. Bureaucrats hate publicity and copying the states delegation sometimes get a lot more attention on a subject than a local bureaucrat will appreciate.

    Folks get the government they deserve.

  2. #17
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I prefer to take a bit more active involvement with government. Yes if may be railing at windmills but I would rather do something then complain after fact like happened on the Pemi suspension bridge. Bureaucrats hate publicity and copying the states delegation sometimes get a lot more attention on a subject than a local bureaucrat will appreciate.

    Folks get the government they deserve.
    . http://nhpr.org/post/white-mountain-...rness#stream/0 I don't think your railing at windmills at all. It is part of the way the system is supposed to work. Supposed to and what actually is would be my question. Aside from one bridge now decades down the road from the institution of the Wilderness Act is it working overall?
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  3. #18
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Full disclosure, I rarely go out there and might not again. But, I think the bridge should go. You either have wilderness or you don't. If they saved the other bridge, you could make a case, but consistency will probably be the rule. I do agree 100% that if they remove the bridge, they should remove ALL of it, abutments included. The site should look, Untouched by man.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Full disclosure, I rarely go out there and might not again. But, I think the bridge should go. You either have wilderness or you don't. If they saved the other bridge, you could make a case, but consistency will probably be the rule. I do agree 100% that if they remove the bridge, they should remove ALL of it, abutments included. The site should look, Untouched by man.
    Consistency is the problem I have. There is none. They replaced the Madison Gulf bridge 8 years ago and that's in the middle of the Wilderness. I think zoned the exact same as the TFT site. I'm sure the AT has everything to do with that but the regulations allow for the same solution in the Pemi.

    I was on the side of replacement until reading their report. If they aren't willing to replace it by typical Wilderness standards then I think it should go. A steel structure, chainsaws, helicopters, and mechanized equipment have no place back there. I'm already not thrilled with their plan to use those things for the removal.

    Thoreau Falls Trail is my favorite trail in the Pemi, if not the Whites. But my favorite section of that trail was abandoned years ago and requires two fords of the river anyway. The removal of the bridge won't be an obstacle in me visiting the area again.

  5. #20
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Of course we've had this discussion here over and over. There is a logical inconsistency here - but it is not the inconsistency of a steel bridge and the wilderness.

    A trail with signs and markers, and a steel bridge, are both man-made, and are NOT "the wilderness."

    The inconsistency is that each individual wants the man-made features THEY like, but does not want man-made features someone else might like. In these days of limited resources, there is a very good argument to be made that if you are going to build a man-made feature, it should be built to last, with lasting materials, not with stuff that's going to rot and fall down in a few years, and need to be built again.

    I believe there is a place for "true wilderness," even here in the NE. It would be quite feasible to set aside an significant area and have NO man-made features in it. One could easily go as far as to suggest an area be closed to people. (This is not a new idea. It has been done in some areas of the National Forest, notably in sections of El Yunque, in Puerto Rico.) So for example, in the Thoreau Falls case, one could remove the bridge, and also remove the trails. And consider banning human entry. THAT would be consistent.

    Trouble is, true wilderness has very few supporters. Every little splinter group wants a "wilderness" designation, but wants it to include their trail, or their bridge, or to allow their canoe cart, or their bicycle, or whatever.

  6. #21
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    Okay if we really want to discuss inconsistencies in the Pemi, explain to me why a staffed improved campground, Thirteen Falls, exists in one of the most remote parts of the Pemi? I realize that it is there to manage a prior nuisance, but I don't see how its permitted in a wilderness area? There are specific exclusions for structures required for public safety in a wilderness area (which probably justifies the rebuilt bridge in the Great Gulf) and there is also an underlying goal of the wilderness act to encourage public access to these areas to see wilderness. Nowhere is there an exclusion for a recreational campground that I have found and yet it exists. At least when the Pemi wilderness was created it was very carefully crafted so the boundaries exclude Guyot and the suspension bridge on the AT just east of the upper Thoreau Fall Crossing but as far as I can see Thirteen Falls doesn't have this exclusion.

    Restore the North Woods and their supporters were advocating for true landscape level wilderness in the northern border region of New England and especially western to central maine. They felt that inherently human presence impacted true wilderness and therefore advocated banning humans. Inconveniently pockets of civilization existed and they conveniently would ignore many of those areas in their grand plans. Roxanne Quimby was influenced by those groups and I believe she was on at least one board and her land purchases and management tended towards that approach. Her views or at least her limited public views tempered by her son have softened considerably in the intervening years.

    IMHO, the FS is chronically short of money and of late when they do spend it its on the wrong things like the road to nowhere rebuild of the east side truck road whose only reason for existence is to service a pit toilet at a campground and the rapidly failing Lincoln Woods trail relocation. This bridge and the prior Pemi and Moriah Brook bridge require maintenance and occasional replacement and the FS is not interested in spending or budgeting the money in the long term. Give them a congressional earmark and they will merrily rebuild the bridge while sucking the associated project management funding to prop up the local budget.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-09-2017 at 03:35 PM.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Okay if we really want to discuss inconsistencies in the Pemi, explain to me why a staffed improved campground, Thirteen Falls, exists in one of the most remote parts of the Pemi? I realize that it is there to manage a prior nuisance, but I don't see how its permitted in a wilderness area? There are specific exclusions for structures required for public safety in a wilderness area (which probably justifies the rebuilt bridge in the Great Gulf) and there is also an underlying goal of the wilderness act to encourage public access to these areas to see wilderness. Nowhere is there an exclusion for a recreational campground that I have found and yet it exists. At least when the Pemi wilderness was created it was very carefully crafted so the boundaries exclude Guyot and the suspension bridge on the AT just east of the upper Thoreau Fall Crossing but as far as I can see Thirteen Falls doesn't have this exclusion.
    A million times yes! I absolutely despise the existence of the 13 Falls campsite. Not only is it a developed camping area in a Wilderness area but the AMC gets to collect fees on it. They leave all their junk there all winter unattended and do absolutely nothing to enforce the 10 person limit.

  8. #23
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Agree with Becca. The specifics of specific bridges are a sidetrack to the larger issue. And sorry TJsN, but the larger governments are mostly made up of unelected bureaucracies. It's always worth *trying* to communicate, but these are no longer "governments of the people." It's tough enough over here in the Adirondacks dealing with NY State. I am continually grateful the feds are not over here, pulling out bridges and painting over trail markers.
    I appreciate the point. I will add that even at smaller levels (think an HOA) there are still people who treat the Board as some mindless blob. There were people who would complain privately but never speak up, and would never volunteer. It's an unfortunate dynamic that develops. I never noticed a distinct political breaking to the phenomenon - I think it's really a personality thing for most, although undoubtedly learned by many through negative experiences. Not all who lead are leaders.
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  9. #24
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    A million times yes! I absolutely despise the existence of the 13 Falls campsite. Not only is it a developed camping area in a Wilderness area but the AMC gets to collect fees on it. They leave all their junk there all winter unattended and do absolutely nothing to enforce the 10 person limit.
    Meanwhile up at Madison last year left behind poop cans were over flowing. Oh that's right they own that land.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  10. #25
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    In a different thread, the Moderator said, "A lot of issues of interest to the VFTT community are political" but that alone would not necessarily be cause to censor a topic or shut down a discussion. I certainly agree with that and also think both Moderators have a deft and nuanced approach to their thankless task. It is always interesting however, when following threads like this one, to see how our political views inevitably find expression, sometimes obliquely and other times thinly veiled or read between the lines.

    As far as the Thoreau Falls Bridge goes, I would like to see it replaced even though I will probably never use it. On the other hand, justifying it's removal as one interpretation of the existing Wilderness regulations is not an entirely unreasonable position. If you want to save the bridge, lobby your Senators with calls and emails. It ain't over till it's over and it ain't done till it's done.
    I think the intention of the statement was to avoid the partisan aspects of politics - that is, to allow for open discussion but without wanton prejudice. We have many different view points and preferences that can often time align with political stances, but it doesn't make them inherently political. A dissenting point of view (or one interpreted as such) isn't automatically political or prejudicial. We sometimes phrase things ineloquently that can lead to misinterpretations; written statements to mostly anonymous strangers increases the difficulty and importance of setting tone. Some people use a stream-of-consciousness style, while others put more time into their prose. I tend to do that latter, but only because I'm pretty sure I'd come across as a huge jerk if I didn't.

    I'll keep saying it - open discussions like these are valuable.
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  11. #26
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    In fairness to the USFS, they did put up counters on both sides of the bridge. Counters show low use, 17 passes max on one day of a long weekend. I suspect their conclusion will be removal without replacement unless there are compelling reasons otherwise. I suspect that it's hard to justify replacement with low use like this.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peaks View Post
    In fairness to the USFS, they did put up counters on both sides of the bridge. Counters show low use, 17 passes max on one day of a long weekend. I suspect their conclusion will be removal without replacement unless there are compelling reasons otherwise. I suspect that it's hard to justify replacement with low use like this.
    What happens when someone drowns trying to ford the river during, or immediately after a rain event? Or during early Summer? Do you put a price on one death? Two? Three? The entire point of the bridge is to prevent drowning deaths. Whenthe forest service is going to want to harvest the timber, are they going to change the Widerness designation at the whim of Congress? May as well replace the bridge. Its still a recreation area, in spite of the Wilderness designation.

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  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    What happens when someone drowns trying to ford the river during, or immediately after a rain event? Or during early Summer? Do you put a price on one death? Two? Three? The entire point of the bridge is to prevent drowning deaths. Whenthe forest service is going to want to harvest the timber, are they going to change the Widerness designation at the whim of Congress? May as well replace the bridge. Its still a recreation area, in spite of the Wilderness designation.
    At what point are you responsible for your own decision making?

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    At what point are you responsible for your own decision making?
    At the point where it endangers your life. Decision making is a skill thats tough to learn when it endangers your life.

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