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Thread: Removal of suspension bridge in Pemi Wilderness

  1. #1
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Exclamation Removal of suspension bridge in Pemi Wilderness

    On April 9th the USFS released a scoping letter that proposes the removal of two bridges in the Pemi Wilderness: The iron bridge over Black Brook just past the Bondcliff Trail, and the suspension bridge over the East Branch near the Cedar Brook Trail. According to the WMNF Planning page, a decision is expected in June, with implementation to begin in July. This seems to be extremely short notice for a project with so much potential impact, but apparently a recent inspection determined that it was unsafe to leave the bridge open to the public.

    If you have any feelings about this, submit your comments to the USFS by May 8th. (Complaining on VFTT may make you feel good, but it won't have much effect on the outcome!)

    You'll find the full scoping package here
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/whit...emi_bridge.htm

    For a concise summary, here is the cover page:

    Dear Planning Participant:
    Iím inviting you to provide written comments on the proposed action described in the attached Pemigewasset Wilderness Bridge Removal Project Scoping Report. This project proposes that the White Mountain National Forest remove the suspension bridge in the Pemigewasset Wilderness which spans the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in the Town of Lincoln,
    New Hampshire. If the decision is made to implement this project, the 180 foot suspension bridge will be dismantled and removed from the Wilderness. The 0.7 mile section of the Wilderness Trail between the Bondcliff Trail and the bridge will be closed and rehabilitated and a steel I-beam bridge over Black Brook, within the 0.7 mile trail closure, will be removed.

    A field inspection of the suspension bridge in June 2008 concluded that the wood components of the bridge, with the exception of the towers, have deteriorated and need to be repaired or the bridge should be closed. The primary purpose of this project is to address public safety concerns associated with the suspension bridge. Secondly, this project will remove a large man-made structure, thereby improving the wilderness character of the area. You may find it surprising that we are proposing to remove this bridge instead of trying to repair it. If you are not familiar with the National Wilderness Preservation System and the values ascribed to its management, I invite you to explore the attached Scoping Report and reflect on how this action could move the Pemigewasset Wilderness closer to the intended state for which it was designated.

    This scoping period gives you the opportunity to provide meaningful input on this project, identify any issues or concerns with the proposal, and contribute your input to the analysis of this project. This scoping report is also posted on the White Mountain National Forest web page: <www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/projects/projects>. In order for your comments to be considered in the next phase of this analysis, please submit them by May 8, 2009. Details of how to comment are provided in the Scoping Report. For more information, you may contact John Marunowski or me at the address and phone number listed in the letterhead.

    Thank you for your interest.
    Sincerely,
    /S/ MOLLY FULLER
    MOLLY FULLER
    District Ranger

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mattl's Avatar
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    I wouldn't mind making it a little more challenging out there by having to cross a few streams. Thats what its like out west for the most part right? I know this can cause problems for people, but I think the Pemi should be more rugged, it would give it more of a wilderness feel.

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    Senior Member 4000'er's Avatar
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    Does anyone have any pictures of the bridges?
    Hiking Related Pix
    48/48
    51/67

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4000'er View Post
    Does anyone have any pictures of the bridges?
    See/read the Scope document using the link.

    Also, check out the stream crossing thread, as the East Branch is not a small stream and cannot be safely forded during much of the year. No more one-day loops from the Hancocks to Owls Head or Carrigain to the Bonds. And, the Pemi ski-through will take an additional hour or so each winter.

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    Senior Member Becca M's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    Thanks for the update on this project! I just sent a letter to the USFS with my concerns. The suspension bridge is part of the traditional ski loop from Lincoln Woods. Although this past winter it *looked* possible to cross the river on snow bridges without the suspension bridge, I might be tempted to cross when conditions aren't good. I think the issue of safety must be examined even though I understand this is in a Wilderness Area.

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    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    The 0.7 mile section of the Wilderness Trail between the Bondcliff Trail and the bridge will be closed
    Looks like the crossings will be a non-issue - they're going to try to prevent them outright and keep everyone on the east side of the river.

    So the only chance to cross will be all the way back at the stepping stones by the campsite, or bushwhack around where they block off the trail for rehabilitation.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

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    I just finished writing a column about this for next week's edition of the Littleton Courier. It will include several quotes from a Pemi District staffer who was kind enough to talk to me at length about the proposal two weeks ago.

    If no significant new issues are raised through the scoping process, there's a strong likelihood that the bridge will be gone by the end of August.

    Interestingly, there are no current plans to take down the former Black Brook trestle, though that has been proposed in previous years and is likely to be brought up again in the future. Only the footbridge over Black Brook (along the Wilderness Trail) would be removed.

    Removal of the suspension bridge does seem like a pretty drastic measure, and certainly there are safety concerns. But it is a wilderness area, and the structure is "non-conforming," so I can certainly understand the rationale for its removal. That being said, however, it is going to inconvenience a lot of people, and especially those unaware of its removal."

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    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    What is the history of the suspension bridge? Does it have significant cultural, historical, social roots? I've crossed it often enough but don't know anything about its origins. Even Wilderness Areas must pay attention to history. For instance, the WRW's Perkins Notch shelter is temporarily off the death list while its eligibility for state or federal historical place status is investigated. Iron bridges might qualify as well. I'm all for wilderness but not for throwing out the baby with the bathwater in some blind allegiance to a romantic idea of the idyllic past. (You have to go a long way back in NH to find that "wilderness" ideal.)

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    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waumbek View Post
    What is the history of the suspension bridge? Does it have significant cultural, historical, social roots? ... Iron bridges might qualify as well.
    According to the scoping, the suspension bridge was built in 1960, much later than the shelters and other structures that have been evaluated for historic value. The bridge over Black Brook is actually seel I-beams, and probably more recent than the suspension bridge.

    The old trestle, on the other hand, is one of the last standing artifacts of the logging railroad, and has definitely been retained for it's historic value.

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    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psmart View Post
    According to the scoping, the suspension bridge was built in 1960, much later than the shelters and other structures that have been evaluated for historic value. The bridge over Black Brook is actually seel I-beams, and probably more recent than the suspension bridge.

    The old trestle, on the other hand, is one of the last standing artifacts of the logging railroad, and has definitely been retained for it's historic value.

    I understand your point about relative age, but I believe that 50 years is a benchmark for certain types of historical status, and the suspension bridge is apparently cose to that, 49.

  11. #11
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    What are the chances the Wilderness Trail closure will actually lead to its being rehabilitated? Many of the "closed" or re-routed trails are in common use today...

    I've never been down that way or over the bridges in question myself.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    Senior Member cushetunk's Avatar
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    It is easy to get places in the White Mountains. Really. It is far more noteworthy when someone doesn't get where they are trying to go than when they do. I think we almost take it for granted that we can fairly simply get to most any remote place in the Whites.

    But most of us also like to fancy that we're pretty darn good at wilderness travel, that we handle what's out there, and that we never lose stride in dealing with the challenges. We tell ourselves that's part of the fun, that's why we go.

    Would the removal of one bridge show us something about ourselves that we do not really want to see?

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    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4000'er View Post
    Does anyone have any pictures of the bridges?
    Pictures are in the scoping report, link provided above by psmart.

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    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    What are the chances the Wilderness Trail closure will actually lead to its being rehabilitated?
    I suspect it will be planted with native vegetation and obscured with rocks and fallen trees. How well that holds up will depend on how many folks seek out the old route. But the removal of the Black Brook bridge will create a natural barrier at Black Brook that will reduce casual use considerably. Of course, anyone who wants to "bushwhack" along the old route will be free to do so.

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    Senior Member TDawg's Avatar
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    Bridges

    Quote Originally Posted by 4000'er View Post
    Does anyone have any pictures of the bridges?
    Black Brook iron beam

    The old Black Brook trestle

    Suspension over East Branch Pic taken in August, river would of been a long tricky rock-hop at this waterlevel. Another one.

    Would the removal of the Black Brook bridge encourage "yahoos" to try and use the old Black Brook trestle at high water?!
    Last edited by TDawg; 04-23-2009 at 08:23 PM.

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