White Mountains Trail Collective?


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Yes, they were working on some of the trail projects we were keeping an eye on for the White Mountain Guide. They built the relocated Iron Mountain Trail, for example, and also worked on the Crawford Path project.

I had heard some of this story previously but not the details mentioned in this article. Unfortunately, some very hard working people got swept up in this person's fraud activities. I believe some of them landed at Mad River Trail Collective:

Yes, I did hear of them. The "golden rule" applies to a trail maintenance in the whites, the entity that has the gold (funding) makes the rules. When I made comments about the Crawford path project at one point on VFTT and the somewhat strange funding, a rep from local group later expressed privately to me to "not rock the boat' as funding trail work in the whites is a tenuous proposition. Getting funding and grants is a major effort and any money from anywhere is better than no money.

My observations from afar, is REI prepped for moving into the Conway area with a big checkbook, but AMC did not seem to be on their list of groups they donate to. I have heard from a few folks that AMC of late has been arrogant about spreading the money around to actually get work done and would rather build their empire at Camp Dodge and the use the "pay to volunteer"" business and the "youth at risk" models for revenue. Whatever the reason, some high-profile projects in their "backyard like Glen Ellis, Crawford Path and the raised bridge on the AT over the wetland across the street from Pinkham were all done by funding from REI through the National Forest Foundation that previously had little visibility in the whites. REI a national organization wrote checks to NFF another national organization with a slick website to do these projects. The problem is NFF did not have staff or offices so they needed subcontractors to actually do the work. I do think they subsequently funded a staff member for the area. When a grant is created, it almost always has administration in the budget and the lead group usually collects the lions share. Typically, a group like NFF will "seed" an employee into an area, let them develop a donor base and hopefully generate enough cash to fund an office and additional employees. Its a chicken and egg situation in that they cannot develop a staff until they have the revenue, so the easiest approach is sub the work. White Mountain Trail Collective (WMTC) seemed to be good with publicity and connected a lot of trail groups to do the actual work. I remember they were working the local and regional media and had some high profile articles and news clips appear regionally.

I think some trail crew folks gave up with the BS of acting like a non profit and there is at least one trails partnership in the Conway area that recruits skilled trails crew to become partners locally that advertises for workers that just skips the middleman and contracts to do the work direct.

Non profit work is low pay and low benefits especially with a start up group and a board is probably going to take folks at their word. Folks usually transition out of college outdoors/ecology degrees and either intern or work at entry level and then move around to build up contacts and experience needed to move up in organizations. Business may not be high in their scholastic background. Turnover is high and the ones that move up in the organizations are the ones that take on new responsibilities when others leave and few small groups have the management acumen to vet employees. The term "fake it until you make it applies". In this case, someone was faking it and went over to the dark side. What is rare is its being publicized. My guess is now that WMTC closed up shop, that they can be brushed as the bad apple and the other organizations hopefully do not get splashed with some reputational damage.

I suspect that it happens more often than we hear that things go bad but the other rule of a nonprofit is bury the problem and never admit there was one as it scares off the donors. Having lived in the area for thirty years I have heard over the years several alleged AMC specific dirty laundry events that were buried, sometimes with high profile employees. If you remember the outcry against the Crystal Cascade Hut proposal in Crawford Notch, more than a few opposed to it were ex AMC employees and long term volunteers. Folks have long memories, and the hut renewal issue of 25 years ago still is remembered by some and a big part of that issue was precipitated by AMC leadership arrogance. There was a major issue that occurred a few years ago I was aware tangentially, but when I offered those who were most directly impacted by AMC's back-room decisions the opportunity to publicize it, they elected to keep it quiet. These were very long term volunteers who resigned en masse. A great long term resource base went away and has not been replaced as they did not fit well into the "youths at risk" model for trail work. For some strange reason this did not make the AMC magazine ;)

AMC recently got the lead role to fund the Franconia Ridge, OBP and FW project under somewhat odd circumstances and some of the groups involved are not the ones normally expected. I wonder if this may be tied to the WMTC issue? To date, AMC has focused on media friendly improvements on OBP (close and easy walk from the trailhead) but many including myself feel its major overkill and will starve the other major trail issues particularly on the Falling Waters trail. I guess we can hope that this summer's installment makes a big shift elsewhere on the loop as the funding was supposed to be the entire loop not just the first mile of OBP
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I am an officer and a member of the board of directors for Mad River Trail Collective. We have never been connected to or associated with the WMTC. Yes very dedicated, honest and hard working individuals were also affected by this persons alleged criminal activity. Some are now working tirelessly as part of MRTC. We are a very small volunteer organization that maintains the multi use trails in the Smarts Brook area including almost 20 miles of newly adopted trails and East Pond. We are mostly made up of mountain bikers, hikers and skiers local to the Mad River Valley. We work closely with the WMNF Pemi district dispersed recreation director. We are not a fundraising organization. Any sources of revenue are thru a nominal membership fee and occasional small private donations. It’s unfortunate that the actions of one person can cast a stain on the great volunteer trail work of many organizations throughout NH . As you all know it is not easy to get people to give up personal time to do trail work. I hope this clarifies what MRTC is all about. Enjoy the trails. Thanks.
Thanks for the important clarification. Looking at the background of the individual it sure looks like they just took advantage of an opportunity for financial gain.
I was always curious about how WMTC were so good at getting grants, now we know the real story. As a financial auditor, I can't help but place some fault with the Board of Directors for not having someone independently review the bank statements monthly. It looks like an annual audit made the fraud discovery.

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