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Thread: How to manage WMNF

  1. #16
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    For anyone who wants to keep up with the latest developments on Franconia Ridge, the excellent and comprehensive email newsletter put out by the West End Trail Tenders is where it's at. A sample:

    https://us3.campaign-archive.com/?u=...&id=3b42d55957

    And for those on Facepage:

    https://www.facebook.com/wettrails/

  2. #17
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I suspect the fundamental differences stem from National Forest (Department of Agriculture) and National Park (Department of Interior) designations and their corresponding management policies.

    Tim
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  3. #18
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Tenaya Peak in Yosemite.
    One of my favorite ever slab climbs. We looked out at Tenaya from every angle (except the top) on this trip. Beautiful, beautiful country.

    I think Yosemite was not the first park to try the advanced reservation and quota system. But I suspect it has worked well at Glacier and a few other spots that are extremely congested, and the powers that be simply made it so at Yosemite. I don't think a similar path can work in WMNF, though Peakbagger and others would know better than me. My sense is, in spite of the bare bones nature of the WMNF management, it's near impossible to reach a consensus and implement any changes of significance. The system in Yosemite took considerable resources, commitment, and electronic infrastructure. That sort of capital just does not exist in NH, even if it would be revenue-neutral or positive in the end.

    But it is possible to do more harm than good, as you know. I'm always hesitant to suggest additional management for precisely that reason. I am able to avoid the worst-impacted areas and still have great experiences in the Whites. I really, really don't want a 'knock' from a ranger late at night while I'm camping in the Great Gulf in the shoulder seasons.
    Sure. Why not.

  4. #19
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    One of my favorite ever slab climbs. We looked out at Tenaya from every angle (except the top) on this trip. Beautiful, beautiful country.

    I think Yosemite was not the first park to try the advanced reservation and quota system. But I suspect it has worked well at Glacier and a few other spots that are extremely congested, and the powers that be simply made it so at Yosemite. I don't think a similar path can work in WMNF, though Peakbagger and others would know better than me. My sense is, in spite of the bare bones nature of the WMNF management, it's near impossible to reach a consensus and implement any changes of significance. The system in Yosemite took considerable resources, commitment, and electronic infrastructure. That sort of capital just does not exist in NH, even if it would be revenue-neutral or positive in the end.

    But it is possible to do more harm than good, as you know. I'm always hesitant to suggest additional management for precisely that reason. I am able to avoid the worst-impacted areas and still have great experiences in the Whites. I really, really don't want a 'knock' from a ranger late at night while I'm camping in the Great Gulf in the shoulder seasons.
    Some sort of reservation system for campgrounds has existed whether consistently or not I’m not sure dating at least back into the 80’s. On my first climbing trip to Yosemite around that time I remember acquiring tickets for campground space in SanFran through Ticketron. No doubt a novel but yet functional experience at the time.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  5. #20
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    I think it would be relatively straightforward to control numbers on the trails and established campsites in the Whites by instituting a per trailhead parking permit system.
    More or less exactly what I was envisioning. Is it possible? In my mind, it would make the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Anticipating the parking situation is one of the most stressful parts of any trip to the Whites these days. I unfortunately foresee an avalanche of outcry of one kind or another (You can't keep me from enjoying the land, Live Free or Die!! or Why are those out-of-staters able to get all the parking permits and those of us who pay taxes can't even access our own trails?! To name a couple...). But maybe I'm wrong about that. It is a National Forest, not a State Forest - maybe things could get done. But I've read enough of Peakbaggers synopses to know management is always convoluted.
    Sure. Why not.

  6. #21
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    I have often wondered what it would have been like here if a National Park had been established as opposed to forest. Many of the patterns established here make it hard to unravel. Not to say the Forest Service doesn't do a good job at managing recreation or sites that demand and get more focus on recreational management; but if an agency specifically geared towards recreational management and objectives on the land had developed the recreational opportunities with recreation as the primary focus, things might be different.

  7. #22
    Senior Member Rhody Seth's Avatar
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    Logistically I think it would be massively difficult to pull off, simply due to the proximity of so many who make use of the mountains. You mentioned making reservations four months in advance, can you imagine anything like that with the Whites? Half the time I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing when I'm driving up. And as someone said, with so many ways to enter the mountains I can't imagine a way to make it feasible - unless you hire an army of enforcement.

    My daughter and I stayed at Lakes of the Clouds on Saturday and it is one of my few recent experiences with mob scene within the Whites. Had to pay to park at the Cog as the Ammo trailhead was a madhouse at 8:30 AM. Even then we got an early start from the hut the next morning for our ascent of Washington and more or less had the place to ourselves. Getting it done early still seems like a viable way to go for me.

  8. #23
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    More or less exactly what I was envisioning. Is it possible? In my mind, it would make the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Anticipating the parking situation is one of the most stressful parts of any trip to the Whites these days. I unfortunately foresee an avalanche of outcry of one kind or another (You can't keep me from enjoying the land, Live Free or Die!! or Why are those out-of-staters able to get all the parking permits and those of us who pay taxes can't even access our own trails?! To name a couple...). But maybe I'm wrong about that. It is a National Forest, not a State Forest - maybe things could get done. But I've read enough of Peakbaggers synopses to know management is always convoluted.
    From my observations based on decades of experience is that many are resistant to being regulated. The Whites for many is about the freedom to come and go as they please and having very little interference from others telling them what to do. A lot of folks start hiking in the Whites and once doing the significant hikes they move on to Vermont, Maine and then eventually Baxter. The former is where the resistance to change can happen. The mere existence of a reservation system and rules in BSP is typically enough for the average tramper that has hiked in the Whites to have an attitude about regulations. I have led many to Baxter that have never been there. Even upon the mere suggestion of going to Baxter I have experienced an attitude of resistance from fellow hikers. Usually it results in myself doing all the planning, reserving, navigating and trail leading. The aftermath always results in my fellow hikers coming to a realization of why the regulations exist. Trying to make that happen with hundreds of thousands of people in The Whites would be quite a task.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  9. #24
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    It's always going to be easier to implement a reservation system with limited entry/exit points. How many vehicles traveling through the Region are actually hiking? I'd be willing to be it's in the minority. Never mind the other aspects of the "multi-use" that use the Whites for non-hiking endeavors

    Where would you put the gates?

  10. #25
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Online would work as long as there was dedicated funding to manage the process locally in the field. Unfortunately the FS has very poor reputation about leaving dedicated funding sources in place, inevitably their budget gets cut and the dedicated funding becomes part of their primary budget. My guess would be they would offload the management of the system to third party and neglect to ramp up staffing.
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we should keep in mind that the budget "crisis" was entirely manufactured by budget cuts designed to force privatization. And the manufactured USFS budget crisis should be considered against the backdrop of the radical economic/political theories of Neo-liberalism (Friedman and that crew) that the US, Britain and much of Europe has embraced for the past 50 plus years; the hallmarks of which are austerity budget cuts in social services, privatization and fee-for-use restructuring of services, rising military spending to keep the flow of resources coming in, and massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.

    So long as we accept the current radical status quo as the only possible future, our imagination atrophies. We, collectively, through our government, have the moral commitment to develop, fund, operate, and maintain drones capable of hitting human targets from around the globe. We certainly have the technical ability to stand up a fair and efficient permitting system. It's a matter of us collectively having the moral commitment to it and the political will to cast off the radical Neo-liberal chains that we too easily accept as a given.


    My guess is the FS just doesn't value and promote folks who spend most of their time in the woods and promote those on the administrative side.
    Nothing that better funding and strong democratic (small 'd') control by we the people can't fix.
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  11. #26
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dug View Post
    It's always going to be easier to implement a reservation system with limited entry/exit points. How many vehicles traveling through the Region are actually hiking? I'd be willing to be it's in the minority. Never mind the other aspects of the "multi-use" that use the Whites for non-hiking endeavors

    Where would you put the gates?
    The control points are the parking areas at the trailheads. The approach should be to limit hiker traffic by limiting legal parking. Limit parking by making it illegal to park at a trailhead without a permit displayed on the dash. Enforcement would be trivial. Send patrols to the trailheads during midday.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  12. #27
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion. There is a broad spectrum between "the only way to manage is to restrict the number of visitors" and "let everyone enjoy the resource, manage to minimize degradation."

    Probably a common sense position somewhere in between, but most discussions of this end up conflicted, with most of the voices at either end.

    I lean more towards the "better management" end of the spectrum. There's a lot that can be done (and has not been done at all) to protect the resource before we start limiting access of the people to their resource. (And of course, though it's off-topic, the people who will lose access the most are the "underserved" populations.)

    My thought are probably affected by my Adirondack experience. Over here, the state has blathered for decades about all the management actions they are going to do (but have not done any of). In the last couple years, the latest line has been "We've tried every other action possible, now we need to restrict access." Whereas in fact, that have tried none of the basic actions that would protect the resource.

    For several years I have been strongly advocating for: Improved, safe, off-road parking; clean, real bathrooms at trailheads; full time trailhead stewards to provide education at the trailhead; more rangers to provide education and enforcement in the backcountry; and more trail maintenance and trail redesign. These are the actions that will protect the resource, and they are not that expensive (for a state with a $230 Billion budget). But our "land management agency" has done zero of them (while constantly crowing about what a great job they are doing).

    Thankfully, in the last year, I am starting to see a couple of our local advocacy groups recognize this, and start to shift their advocacy towards it. Sadly, many of the other advocacy groups are still stuck in the "chase all the users out of the woods" mode.

    It will take about a decade to settle out. Hopefully things improve.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I mean why shouldn’t someone whom never steps foot in the woods pay for someone else’s good time.
    The same reason someone who never flies had to bail out the airline industry twice.

  14. #29
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    The same reason someone who never flies had to bail out the airline industry twice.
    This could be taken different ways. I think I'll recuse myself from any comment on this.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  15. #30
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    The control points are the parking areas at the trailheads. The approach should be to limit hiker traffic by limiting legal parking. Limit parking by making it illegal to park at a trailhead without a permit displayed on the dash. Enforcement would be trivial. Send patrols to the trailheads during midday.
    Would we line all the roads with no parking signs throughout the entire area? Quick pull-offs on the side of 302 for people to take a dip in. Hunters, loggers, leaf-peepers, hikers, backpackers, general neighborhood traffic, etc. Truckers driving through and pulling over for a rest? There are something like 300 trailheads I think that feed areas in the White Mtns. that's a lot of staff designed as parking control.

    Don't disagree with the sentiment but I can't come up a a good option (to me) that won't cost so much to implement that the cost/benefit for an average family to stomach.

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