Editor’s note: This article previously appeared in the Coos County Democrat, and is reprinted here with the permission of its author, Edith Tucker.
JEFFERSON-RANDOLPH — A new access path to the Pond of Safety will be constructed this summer, just inside the boundary of the Kilkenny Unit of the White Mountain National Forest adjacent to the Randolph Community Forest (RCF).
The U.S. Forest Service has signed a contract with the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) to have its seasonal trail crew do the work, explained RMC president Randy Meiklejohn of Brookline, Mass., in the RMC’s June newsletter. The new trail will lead from the existing parking area, recently enlarged and graded, down to the south bank of the Pond, replacing an older, steeper trail. Designed with two switchbacks, it will be graded and surfaced to be accessible to individuals with disabilities and easier for canoeists and kayakers to use.
RMC Field supervisor Cheryl Byrne of Wheelock, Vt., anticipates that RMC will start the project the week of July 20, unless something unexpected happens. A NHDES wetlands permit was given to the Forest Service the week of June 1, allowing it to impact 3,140 square feet to construct a hardened, ADA-compliant access trail. A perched beach will be built the edge of the Pond, under a separate wetlands permit, and once abandoned the existing trail will be restored as a natural woodland buffer. The work will be done in accordance with plans drawn up by the WMNF — Androscoggin District, dated March 24, that NHDES received on June 1.
The permit authorizes the removal of trees or saplings within the waterfront buffer that could result in a tree-and-sapling point score below the minimum required, and it includes a waiver. The permit will not be effective until the waiver has been recorded at the Registry of Deeds in Lancaster and a copy sent to NHDES. In addition, appropriately sized erosion and siltation controls must be installed before the work begins, maintained throughout the project, and then remain in place until all the disturbed surfaces are stabilized.
This trail site will be the last on a driving-and-walking Randolph Community Forest (RCF) Day tour on Saturday, Aug. 1. The theme of this year’s is “Wildlife and the Improvement of Wildlife Habitat on the RCF.”
The Day will begin at 9 a.m. at the Randolph Town Hall where the Forest Commission will report on its activities since Aug. 2014. There will also be a discussion of a recent $30,000 grant – “Dirt to Trees to Wildlife” — designed to make it easier to manage woodlands for specific wildlife species. Project manager John Lanier of Columbia, a wildlife biologist, and county forester Brendan Prusik of UNH Cooperative Extension, also of Columbia, have been working together on this project for two years.
The tour will likely leave Town Hall at 10 a.m., with the first stop at the Bowman parking lot where some participants may choose to take a 3/4-mile hike over mostly level ground south to Rollo Falls, part of the headwaters of the Moose River and at the heart of the RCF’s most recent acquisition: 72 acres of woodlands around the Falls, an acquisition made possible because of a generous donation by Roberta Arbree and Bob Potter of Randolph.
The status of a wildlife action plan for the Israel’s River corridor within the RCF will also be discussed, including how best to manage some old apple trees for wildlife. The tour will then stop at several project locations on the Pond of Safety Road where the RCF Commission has implemented wildlife habitat improvements, financed in part by a federal WHIP grant from the National Resources Conservation Service, now no longer available on municipally owned land. Some of those habitat projects created permanent open spaces; some reintroduced softwoods into areas where they once grew naturally.
Happily, according to the Commission’s minutes, a $150,000 donor-advised grant for management of wildlife habitats was recently given to the RCF by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF), extending the Commission’s ability to continue the work done under the WHIP grant. The tour will end at the Pond of Safety, allowing participants to see the flagging where the new USFS trail will be located.