Baxter State Park - Wilderness Approach

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
While hiking at Baxter this past week I realized it was roughly 40 years since I first hiked at the park :eek:. Like many other youth groups in the state of Maine, almost every 11 to 15 year old would get to go on a Katahdin trip at least once, and I got to go 2 years in a row as a Boy scout. Although I remember some details of both trips, including going to the park dump to feed the bears and staying at the Boy Scout campground at Abol Pond (both long gone), I dont remember a lot about the physical condition of the park but I vaguely remember it being a bit more open.

Over the years I have visited the park every few years and the one thing noticable over the long run is the management approach to let every open spot grow in. It would be great if I had time lapse photos so I have to rely on memory but, areas like Chimney Pond that used to be somewhat trampled with numerous paths is now dense trees navigated by narrow paths. Many of the former views from the shelters are long gone and in general except for the helipad area the area has grown in. In my opinion some of the character of the campsite is gone. There has been similiar management of Katahdin Stream specifically around the leantos on the south side of the stream.

While visiting Nesowadnehunk field I also noticed that the field is growing in, and apparently the current management plan is to let it keep growing in rather than actively maintaining it. The area had been a popular spot to see wildlife due to the open fields. Its been a few years since I was at Russell Pond but I also beleive that that area is also being allowed to grow in except for a helipad.

Has anyone else noticed this trend over the long term and what do you feel about it? The forest service actually maintains open areas of the woods in the Whites and elsewhere for the critical habitat required of many birds with dense woods surrounding open fields. I believe the intent of the cuts are to simulate natural events such as lighting strikes and blowdowns. Obviously there are plenty of clearcuts adjacent to the park but thge current trend of the park is to let it all become dense woods.

I dont have access to the multiple deeds of trust and subsequent interpretations, but it does appear that over the years the management approach has been a lot less heavy handed in keeping areas open.