Public hearing on Randolph Ski Glades this evening

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peakbagger

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A friend of mine let me know about this public meeting tonight. I have heard some second hand rumbling that locals may be unhappy on how the Randolph Ski Glades are being managed on the Randolph Town Forest. When the glades were first established Grantie State Backcountry Alliance used the Randolph glades extensively in their PR. I think it was partially a way of getting their foot in the door into the WMNF where they have established several large glades. In the first few years there were large maintenance activities at the site but haven't heard or any recently, they may be occurring as I am not a skier. There is small dedicated backcountry community in the area but no formal group that maintains the glade. RMC does not officially have a backcountry skiing component although they are supportive and tend to maintain their trails wider than many clubs do. The Randolph Town Forest also does not have maintenance of this resource in their charter.

The meeting is at 6:30 PM tonight (Monday) in Randolph at the town hall.

It will be interesting to hear the issues first hand. There is also a discussion of the FS Maintenace of the Pond of Safety road. Not sure of last years condition but the year before it has some major rough and rutted sections that required high clearance and 4wd. The pond is great place to visit the the loop up the Mt Crescent Ridge along the length of half of it and return is a great hike in some nice woods. In the winter its the domain of snowmobiles.
 
A friend of mine let me know about this public meeting tonight. I have heard some second hand rumbling that locals may be unhappy on how the Randolph Ski Glades are being managed on the Randolph Town Forest. When the glades were first established Grantie State Backcountry Alliance used the Randolph glades extensively in their PR. I think it was partially a way of getting their foot in the door into the WMNF where they have established several large glades. In the first few years there were large maintenance activities at the site but haven't heard or any recently, they may be occurring as I am not a skier. There is small dedicated backcountry community in the area but no formal group that maintains the glade. RMC does not officially have a backcountry skiing component although they are supportive and tend to maintain their trails wider than many clubs do. The Randolph Town Forest also does not have maintenance of this resource in their charter.

The meeting is at 6:30 PM tonight (Monday) in Randolph at the town hall.

It will be interesting to hear the issues first hand. There is also a discussion of the FS Maintenace of the Pond of Safety road. Not sure of last years condition but the year before it has some major rough and rutted sections that required high clearance and 4wd. The pond is great place to visit the the loop up the Mt Crescent Ridge along the length of half of it and return is a great hike in some nice woods. In the winter its the domain of snowmobiles.
Thanks for posting. Would be interested to here more specific info if it becomes available.
 
Turns out I got the date wrong, its this thursday the 4th. If the forecast is any where near accurate I could guess that they will need to postpone.
 
Turns out I got the date wrong, its this thursday the 4th. If the forecast is any where near accurate I could guess that they will need to postpone.
Thank you for the update.
 
I had a chance to attend the rescheduled hearing. Tyler Ray the charismatic founder of GBA was not present due to a scheduling conflict. Various people, many who were the original developers and users of the glades long before Granite Backcountry Alliance and residents in the area expressed many valid concerns that the use of the glades, the parking and the attitude of the users of the glades are well past wearing out their welcome. Randolph Hill Road is a dead end road that was very quiet in winter and at times there may be 30 to 50 cars parked haphazardly, along the end of the road and exceeding the capacity of parking. Most locals no longer will attempt to go there on weekends and some "bad actors" are also speeding along the road especially when there is fresh snow and expressing their displeasure to the locals that they are in the way. There was also mention that various for profit guide services are scheduling events with their paid clients at the glades. One thing that was said by GBA politely but pointedly is that now that the "genie is out of the bottle" with respect to the national and regional publicity for the Randolph Glades that if the Randolph Town Forest were to drop out of the mutual agreement with GBA that the problems would remain.

The town forest forester was there and he was careful to note that to date his involvement has been minimal with GBA. In general he expressed that the current usage is not impacting the forest management goals as the area does not have areas of special concern or potential species of concern.

Dogs and potential wildlife harassment did come up as well as backcountry sanitation both canine and human as observations by the residents.

One option discussed is to switch the agreement to a new local group composed of many of the original founders in hopes that they will have more control. I personally think that is nice concept but unsure how practical it would be.

Usage during Covid exploded and even GBA admits it caught them by surprise, they are now trying to get systems and methods in place to deal with the issues but there were even issues this winter. There are also concerns that GBA is now a non profit in name only that is effectively run by a for profit management company and that leads to a fundamental issue that the for profits goal is to expand the business and a big way of doing that is publicity. A reference was made to their non profit tax form and it shows a growing revenue with no real expanses as they rely on volunteers. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/813999880. I do not see a line item for management, so I really do not know how the for profit management firm is compensated.

The meeting was well attended by a lot of local long term residents and if I had to guess the majority are unhappy with the current operation and expecting the town government to require significant alterations to the operation Some feel GBA deserves a chance but many have been expressing concerns for several years and fustrated that little gets done.

No decisions were made this evening but I expect GBA at best is going to a have a limited time to make major changes or this resource may be taken away. They have assigned a local glade master but he really has not been in the position through a season. Unlike glades on USFS sites, this usage has to be part of the formal Town forest Plan as the land in question is under a third party conservation easement that can independently curtail the usage if it is not in the approved plan.
 
Thank you for posting this and appreciate your attendance and information now and going forward. This is certainly an unfortunate and unacceptable situation. I would be interested on what was agreed upon initially between the powers at be and GBA to begin with as far as what and who would manage this situation. Specfically what was agreed upon as management duties. I do believe the parking lot was expanded initially when this project began, and it was to be strictly enforced that there would be no parking on the road. Short of having a full time steward at the trailhead and even then, whether that would have an impact on all the issues you have mentioned what are the answers other than shutting this operation down. The Forest's protection foremost. Harassment of wildlife, improper human waste disposal, improper parking, and harassment of local residents should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, the pandemic did bring in a whole other level of AT Skier that is obviously not congruent with proper use of this resource. Abuse it you loose it.
 
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I expect its a combination of many things. GBAs first glade was Randolph. Tyler Ray is a very charismatic leader of the organization, quite media savvy and the media loves him. The Randolph Glades already existed to some extent, but Tyler convinced the Randolph Community Forest managing board to formalize and agreement with the fledgling GBA to make them official. This gave GBA legitimacy and regional and national media were directed at the Randolph Glades. Take a look at Tylers Linked in Profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/tylertray/ he has leveraged GBA and into a specialty law/management firm in the Conway area. My guess is the initial success in Randolph led GBA to get its foot in the door into other conserved lands and the WMNF. Even though there have been many other glades built, Randolph seems to have become the poster child for the movement on social media.

GBA predominantly dealt with John Scarinza, a long term selectman in town and regional leader who was one of the lead participants in the creation of the community forest and acted as the lead and an advocate to the GBA agreement. In a small town there are leaders and followers, and John was definitely a leader, if he was an advocate to some effort, he had a lot of support in town. Sadly in 2023 he passed away from an extended illness. Other folks stepped in to run the community forest, but I expect there was loss of continuity between the organizations which caused a buildup of tensions by the locals with the Covid surge in backcountry skiing. The residents felt no one was listening and I expect many lost John to act as their advocate.

Another aspect is the Randolph glade is in a different microclimate than much of the other glades in the system. The Crescent range is detached from the mass of the whites by an east west valley and it tends to be a magnet for snow with far less changing to rain that seems to have become an issue elsewhere. Randolph has one of the highest populated area annual snowfall totals in the state over the long term and the Mt Crescent glade seem to get more snow and hold onto it. The problem is that "white gold" is at the end of a dead end long road that year round residents rely on. The town has 22 miles of roads to plow and that is done by one person and his priority is to the residents. Many of the homes are seasonal particularly on Randolph Hill road and during the winter it used to be quite quiet, according to those who have lived there long term, it no longer is.

Many skiers want first runs so they tend to rush to the glades even before it has stopped snowing with vehicles that are poorly equipped for deep snow. While the residents are digging out, they are having to deal with folks who are substituting forward velocity for proper equipment to get up to the parking lot. Some of the skiers are less than polite when their recreational pursuits are impeded by someone cleaning their driveway or attempting to back out of it. The lot was configured for 3 season use and not for plowing. The town has hired a local to dig the place out with his tractor as plowing would quickly eat up potential parking but he too has other priorities so by the time he gets there he has to deal with parked cars that are parked wherever they could make it to. There is potential area to substantially expand parking but I think the consensus is that will degrade the glade experience. Ultimately the solution is that less people are going to need to use this glade.

Decentralized social media also factors in, folks broadcast snow conditions and if the glade has snow when others may not, that gets wide distribution.

My guess is the original intent was that this would be one of many glades in the region used by mostly locals. It was not envisioned as something getting visited from all over New England and featured in New York media outlets. By either deliberate planning or poor luck it has become a victim of its own success. The challenge is going to be figuring out a way of managing it for far smaller daily usage and dont know if its possible under GBA. GBA has proposed many fixes and many appear to be non starters but I dont know if there is anyone in town that interested in listening at this point. Ideally controlling numbers takes management and if GBA has to start turning away folks who traveled long distances at the parking lot they are going to get a black eye quickly and they are dependent on membership dues to operate.
 
I expect its a combination of many things. GBAs first glade was Randolph. Tyler Ray is a very charismatic leader of the organization, quite media savvy and the media loves him. The Randolph Glades already existed to some extent, but Tyler convinced the Randolph Community Forest managing board to formalize and agreement with the fledgling GBA to make them official. This gave GBA legitimacy and regional and national media were directed at the Randolph Glades. Take a look at Tylers Linked in Profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/tylertray/ he has leveraged GBA and into a specialty law/management firm in the Conway area. My guess is the initial success in Randolph led GBA to get its foot in the door into other conserved lands and the WMNF. Even though there have been many other glades built, Randolph seems to have become the poster child for the movement on social media.

GBA predominantly dealt with John Scarinza, a long term selectman in town and regional leader who was one of the lead participants in the creation of the community forest and acted as the lead and an advocate to the GBA agreement. In a small town there are leaders and followers, and John was definitely a leader, if he was an advocate to some effort, he had a lot of support in town. Sadly in 2023 he passed away from an extended illness. Other folks stepped in to run the community forest, but I expect there was loss of continuity between the organizations which caused a buildup of tensions by the locals with the Covid surge in backcountry skiing. The residents felt no one was listening and I expect many lost John to act as their advocate.

Another aspect is the Randolph glade is in a different microclimate than much of the other glades in the system. The Crescent range is detached from the mass of the whites by an east west valley and it tends to be a magnet for snow with far less changing to rain that seems to have become an issue elsewhere. Randolph has one of the highest populated area annual snowfall totals in the state over the long term and the Mt Crescent glade seem to get more snow and hold onto it. The problem is that "white gold" is at the end of a dead end long road that year round residents rely on. The town has 22 miles of roads to plow and that is done by one person and his priority is to the residents. Many of the homes are seasonal particularly on Randolph Hill road and during the winter it used to be quite quiet, according to those who have lived there long term, it no longer is.

Many skiers want first runs so they tend to rush to the glades even before it has stopped snowing with vehicles that are poorly equipped for deep snow. While the residents are digging out, they are having to deal with folks who are substituting forward velocity for proper equipment to get up to the parking lot. Some of the skiers are less than polite when their recreational pursuits are impeded by someone cleaning their driveway or attempting to back out of it. The lot was configured for 3 season use and not for plowing. The town has hired a local to dig the place out with his tractor as plowing would quickly eat up potential parking but he too has other priorities so by the time he gets there he has to deal with parked cars that are parked wherever they could make it to. There is potential area to substantially expand parking but I think the consensus is that will degrade the glade experience. Ultimately the solution is that less people are going to need to use this glade.

Decentralized social media also factors in, folks broadcast snow conditions and if the glade has snow when others may not, that gets wide distribution.

My guess is the original intent was that this would be one of many glades in the region used by mostly locals. It was not envisioned as something getting visited from all over New England and featured in New York media outlets. By either deliberate planning or poor luck it has become a victim of its own success. The challenge is going to be figuring out a way of managing it for far smaller daily usage and dont know if its possible under GBA. GBA has proposed many fixes and many appear to be non starters but I dont know if there is anyone in town that interested in listening at this point. Ideally controlling numbers takes management and if GBA has to start turning away folks who traveled long distances at the parking lot they are going to get a black eye quickly and they are dependent on membership dues to operate.
Many spot-on comments. There have been many upsides to the exploitation of BC Skiing but there are certainly downsides obvious from this present situation. Hopefully something can be worked out. Limiting parking to the developed lot IMO would go a long way to achieve a more acquiescent environment. Also limiting hours to access to the lot would also help and keeping it closed until it's plowed. As evident with many other Dead-End roads that lead to trailheads even with no parking signs enforcement is needed to achieve the goal at hand. With no local Police Force in this area that is going to be left up to either GBA or some other involvement by local residents. Which could get sticky. As you have already stated this is a Town Forest and not National Forest Land. Randolphians should put their foot down and look after their own resource rather than to rely on an organization that has obviously already failed the situation. This is not the first situation in recent times that the AT skiing community not just GBA has failed the local communities. Again, most of what has been done has been positive, but they have made the bed they lie in, and it happens to be much of the time in others backyard and should be treated accordingly. As far as the Guiding Community the Town of Randolph should impose an Outfitters Guiding permit system, charge for it and limit the number of those permits. They too are imposing impact and making money on it when they are already doing that all over National Forest land.
 
As a lifelong NH resident, peak bagger, and avid skier, I completely understand the frustration of the Randolf residents. I'm also a member of the AMC and the GBA.

I have personally experienced the "unplanned" use of this glade. A few years ago, our AMC group was supposed to ski the Baldface glades. There wasn't enough snow there, so the trip leaders opted to switch to the Crescent Ridge glades. I drove up from southern NH. There was very little snow in Franconia Notch. There still wasn't even that much snow in Randolf, along Route 2. I was pretty skeptical until I started climbing the road to the glade. All of a sudden, the snow banks started growing, and growing. By the time that I got to the parking lot, there was a foot of fresh! We weren't the only group that was "diverted" to the glade. There was also an avalanche safety group that was supposed to be elsewhere.

I can only imagine what this is like now that the "cat is out of the bag" with regard to snow conditions here. By the time we were finished making our runs, the parking lot was pretty full.

I think that the town of Randolf could impose a "user fee" which might alleviate the problem. The only problem would be enforcement.

The bottom line is that it's our responsibility, as users, to respect the resident's predicament and adjust behaviors so that we don't lose access to this resource...
 
Mcnta5 is right but unfortunately once areas become known they either have to be managed really well or they will close. See this all the time with climbing areas. Seems like the Randolph glade will need a separate access point outside the neighborhood otherwise problems will persist. Folks who drive long distances are simply not going to turn around if their destination is crowded. They always find a way to use the resource when they have driven that far. Just human nature. There are limited resources and everyone wants to use them and feels they have an equal right to do so. It’s a very difficult problem to solve for.
 
Thanks for the post from a third party perspective. It will be interesting to see how this public meeting this evening will go. I am not a skier in any form but have hiked and bushwhacked with folks who do and over the years I think I have wandered through a lot of areas with potential glades plus have visited the Hale glades in both summer and winter. So I am somewhat a third party with respect to ski glades but I find the parallels to access issues for hiking quite similar.

The big difference I see is access. Folks want their glades, but they want them easy. The other glades I have encountered seem to have the same attributes, but they are a lot farther in the backcountry. Far less if any maintenance, no plowed parking. GBA needed to make it easy and Randolph glades fit the bill.

One of the GBA brainstormed ideas mentioned during the public meeting was build access from Durand Road (the old RT2). That would in theory make things better for the neighbors on the hill (but sure would not fly with the folks on Durand Road) and the access to the good stuff up in the upper microclimate would be a couple of miles longer. I think many would rapidly figure it out that its a lot easier to access via the old route.


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Mcnta5 is right but unfortunately once areas become known they either have to be managed really well or they will close. See this all the time with climbing areas. Seems like the Randolph glade will need a separate access point outside the neighborhood otherwise problems will persist. Folks who drive long distances are simply not going to turn around if their destination is crowded. They always find a way to use the resource when they have driven that far. Just human nature. There are limited resources and everyone wants to use them and feels they have an equal right to do so. It’s a very difficult problem to solve for.
It is a Town Forest. Many Town Forests charge residents and non-residents for use. Fees produce revenues that produce income for trail maintenance and patrolling. Randolph use to be a quiet little town on the hill but as already mentioned the cat is out of the bag whether locals like it or not. Housing development has increased, the pandemic hit, social media attention increased, readily available information became available on the internet and the town decided to bring in an outside entity to manage Crescent Mountain Glade Skiing. As I have already mentioned The Town of Randolph's only chance IMO is to take it back and manage it under their own wings. A fee based system could also be coupled with a reservation system in order to limit numbers at a given time.
 
Interesting meeting, not much new except that some folks from Jackson area were there and they are contemplating a similar arrangement with GBA and expect their eyes were opened. Despite the intent of keeping things positive for how a new group might manage the area, there is not a lot of love lost with the current direction of GBA.

There was also a mention that the new Pine Mtn ski glades are going to happen soon as part of the USFS Peabody West project. This will be a very large glade area, basically the north side of Pine Mtn down to the Moose River (part of the Presidential Range Trail/Cross NH trail) Access will not be easy, but it is going to bring attention to a very large new glade area. My guess is access issues are going to be a problem as it's not a drive up like Randolph. This area was quite "glade like" pre ice storm of 1998 (Mature birch and hardwood stands with minimal understory) but the ice storm messed it up. It didn't get a lot of visitors but used to be a spot I visited frequently pre Ice Storm. My guess is a lot of folks are going to get familiar with a Class 4 town road in Gorham that the owner really wishes didn't exist. The USFS site isnt easy to send a direct link but this will get someone started https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55659&exp=overview Unlike the Randolph Ski glades, the Pine Mountain ski glade itself is on USFS glades, but the access and parking is not.

It's very similar to the Randolph ski glades. It could pull some use out of the Mt Crescent glades in Randolph, but my guess is its just going to bring more users into the area.
 
Thank you for attending the meeting and thank you for the update.
 
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Thanks for the post from a third party perspective. It will be interesting to see how this public meeting this evening will go. I am not a skier in any form but have hiked and bushwhacked with folks who do and over the years I think I have wandered through a lot of areas with potential glades plus have visited the Hale glades in both summer and winter. So I am somewhat a third party with respect to ski glades but I find the parallels to access issues for hiking quite similar.

The big difference I see is access. Folks want their glades, but they want them easy. The other glades I have encountered seem to have the same attributes, but they are a lot farther in the backcountry. Far less if any maintenance, no plowed parking. GBA needed to make it easy and Randolph glades fit the bill.

One of the GBA brainstormed ideas mentioned during the public meeting was build access from Durand Road (the old RT2). That would in theory make things better for the neighbors on the hill (but sure would not fly with the folks on Durand Road) and the access to the good stuff up in the upper microclimate would be a couple of miles longer. I think many would rapidly figure it out that its a lot easier to access via the old route.


View attachment 7677
"So perhaps yes, it might be true that “if you build it they will come”, and in this case the creation of the glade skiing opportunity on the RCF is looking like a great success, providing additional outdoor winter recreational opportunities on the forest while contributing to the local economy which should be a benefit for guests and residents alike in the Androscoggin Valley and the region".

https://randolphforest.org/glade-skiing-on-the-randolph-community-forest-by-john-scarinza/
 
My observation is things would not have gotten out of control if John been in the picture for the last two winters as he was a very influential person in the community. Sadly, he passed away in April 2023 and had been under treatment for his illness for a long period before. https://www.bryantfuneralhome.net/obituaries/lt-john-k-scarinza-ret Combine that with the big rush to outdoor pursuits including glade skiing on public lands due to Covid restrictions at commercial recreation areas and it was a perfect storm.
 
My observation is things would not have gotten out of control if John been in the picture for the last two winters as he was a very influential person in the community. Sadly, he passed away in April 2023 and had been under treatment for his illness for a long period before. https://www.bryantfuneralhome.net/obituaries/lt-john-k-scarinza-ret Combine that with the big rush to outdoor pursuits including glade skiing on public lands due to Covid restrictions at commercial recreation areas and it was a perfect storm.
Changing of the guard is always difficult.
 
Changing of the guard is always difficult.
Looks like there is going to be another changing of the guard. Hope this bears well for Randolphians going forward. This was posted on FB by GBA:
MESSAGE FROM THE GRANITE CHIEF.

Today, I share a bittersweet message. After much reflection, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down as GBA’s Granite Chief and pass the torch to a new generation of leadership.

Back in 2015, my vision was to create a vibrant backcountry community in New Hampshire and Maine. Nine years later, that vision is a reality, with the organic growth of GRANITELAND, GBA’s network of 17 below treeline backcountry zones containing over 55,000 vertical feet of skiable terrain and, most importantly, developed by 33,000 volunteer hours. I am incredibly proud of achieving that vision by mobilizing the support of hundreds of passionate folks!

There are so many to thank that contributed to Graniteland, especially our amazing land partners, sponsors, 2,000+ Quarry Dog members, 100-person Ranch Family management team, local businesses, and countless others. Together we built a sustainable network across 12 communities fostering a collaborative backcountry culture.

I depart with full confidence in the Board of Directors to select a capable successor that understands the backcountry community. That job posting will be listed in the coming days - it’s probably the coolest job out there so share it widely.

See you all in the woods and remember to Ski Kind 🙏

- Tyler
 
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One of the issues was that the non profit GBA was dependent on profit making entities controlled by Tyler. If he is stepping down from the non profit yet retaining control of the support entities what will be the impact?
 
One of the issues was that the non profit GBA was dependent on profit making entities controlled by Tyler. If he is stepping down from the non profit yet retaining control of the support entities what will be the impact?
I guess that will be left up to the Lawyers. Oh wait. He is a Lawyer.😲
 
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