During the days leading up to Thanksgiving we frequently hear from many people that it’s their favorite holiday. The day is jam packed with family, fun, food and most of all – gratitude. As we think about Thanksgiving in the United States, I think its important for us to be thankful for the national treasures we have in our parks and wild places.
We have a bounty of beautiful protected landscapes in our nation. From the 278,000,000 acres of National Parks to the 192,000,000 acres managed by the US Forest Service, from the 40,000,000 acres in private conservation easements to the millions of acres of local parks in cities and towns – we are blessed by these stunning spaces.
Thanks to the hard work of generations of conservation leaders and advocates, the United States is in an enviable position of leadership. We have a rich US legacy of protecting the outdoors and being active in the outdoors. That leadership however can’t stop with generations past – our parks and protected lands must be part of a renewed Outdoor Citizenship for our nation.
Our nation and the world depends on all of us to step up and play an active role. Getting the next generation active in the outdoors will better prepare them to confront the challenges of our time – challenges like climate change, resiliency, obesity and inactivity. Knowledgeable outdoor citizenry means better informed voters too; and people who more wisely use our trails, parks and ponds.
No matter where we are in the country, Thanksgiving is a great time to recommit and reconnect to the outdoors and to conservation stewardship. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you for all you do to advance the outdoors.
We are indeed fortunate to have a dedicated group of partners at AMC. From the YMCA’s and Boys and Girls Clubs, to our conservation partners throughout the our service area – from Maine to DC. We’re lucky to have these collaborations to help get more people active in the outdoors while advancing conservation stewardship.
One of our longest and most revered partnerships is with the White Mountain National Forest. Forest Superintendent Tom Wagner and his team do an outstanding job managing one of our nation’s most beautiful forests.
We celebrated the Centennial of the Weeks Act in 2011 – marking the 100th Anniversary of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). AMC and other partners worked together to ensure this landscape be preserved for generations to enjoy. Today, hundreds of thousands of people pass through Pinkham Notch or use AMC maintained trails. Whether you take the 19 Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch Hut, scale the rocky trails to Mount Adams, ski Wildcat or Cannon, or hike the Crawford Path…there’s something for everyone in the White Mountain National Forest.
The WMNF is also a key driver supporting our NH North Country economy. As one of the largest employers in the North Country, AMC knows the positive impact the WMNF and eco tourism has on the local economy and on NH overall economy. Jobs in lodging, environmental education, recreation, sustainable forestry and trail maintenance – are just a few of the thousands of jobs that are supported and benefited by the WMNF.
AMC is working with partners like the Society for the Protection of NH Forests and others to protect the White Mountain National Forest. We want to ensure that these beautiful 750,852 acres are enjoyed by generations to come.
On the trail in the Muhoosucs
We are fortunate in the Northeast to have a wide variety of outdoor recreational options. From our treasured mountains to our beautiful coastline, there are thousands of outdoor adventures that are just a few hours away. Getting out close to home is a fun way to explore the outdoors when you don’t have the time for longer travel or an overnight stay.
AMC’s latest Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia offers a hundred options nearby. From the lush landscapes and vibrant gardens of the Awbury Aboretum and the Morris Aboretum, to the miles of trails at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge or FDR Park – there is a lot to do on a day trip around Philly.
One of my favorite Philly spots is the Schuylkill Banks and East Fairmount Park. This is a beautiful area for walking and biking. The Water Works sits atop the Schuylkill like an Athenian campus. Further down the river you’ll see a series of collegiate boat houses – home to many of the local rowing teams. And, from an environmental education perspective, Fairmount Park center offers an interpretive exhibit on watersheds.
What’s nice about the 100 trips in the Philadephia, Boston and New York City books, is that many of these close to home trips are accessible by public transportation. In Boston you can get to fun places like the Arnold Arboretum (Jamaica Plain) on the Orange line or Castle Island (South Boston) on the Red line. Buses bring you from these train stops to the front entrances.
Please consider taking some day trips this summer to get outdoors. Our region has so much to offer – many hidden gems – that will add to the enjoyment and fun of your family’s summer adventure.
Southern terminus of the Bay Circuit Trail in Duxbury, MA. Initially conceived in 1929, the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) is now being completed through a partnership of AMC and the Trustees of the Reservations. This 220 mile trail stretches through 57 communities and is within a short drive for 4.8 million people in the Metropolitan Boston area.
We had a stunning weekend hiking in the White Mountain National Forest. Heading up the Gale River Trail to Galehead Hut on Friday, followed by beautiful hikes to the Bonds on Saturday. We’re very fortunate to have this majestic forest in our backyard. It was fitting for us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Mountain Watch program.
Guests at our Huts, Lodges and campsites have been contributing as citizen scientists for the past ten years to make Mountain Watch another way for us to support the scientific study of this treasured alpine area. The White Mountains is home to an incredible diversity of alpine life. The lush landscapes include centuries old forests, rock outcroppings formed some 15,000 years ago and plant and animal life that make up part of this rich ecosystem.
AMC has a unique responsibility to protect and promote the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). AMC worked with the Forest Service just over 100 years ago on the Weeks Act to have the WMNF established. Our hundreds of miles of trails, lodges, huts and campsites host hundreds of thousands of visitors and tens of thousands of overnight guests. We have the responsibility to help each of our guests and visitors to understand the beauty and fragility of the WMNF and their role in protecting it for generations to come.
As we consider a broad range of initiatives and issues – from the effects of climate change to working to protect watersheds – Mountain Watch and citizen science will continue to play an integral role in the wise use of the WMNF for the next century and beyond.
I had the pleasure to meet some of the wonderful information volunteers at AMC’s Highland Center last Saturday in Crawford Notch, NH. Nestled in the White Mountains with stunning views on all sides, Crawford Notch is a special place to visit. It’s also the site of one of the first trails ever built in the White Mountains in the 1600′s. Followed by the first recorded hike to Mount Washington in 1642 by Darby Field.
For 136 or AMC’s 137 year history we have been building trails. Our Professional Trails Crew, Contract Trails Crew, Volunteer Trails Crew and Teen Trails Crew contributes thousands of hours of hard work to build and maintain the 2,000 miles of trails we oversee. Last year, our Volunteer Trail Crew number 1,100 dedicated volunteers and donated 38% more hours than they did the year before. Tens of thousands of hours of hard work, designing trails, cutting back brush, placing trail bars for drainage, arranging heavy stones, constructing bridges over bogs and creating the beautifully crafted and maintained pathways to lead us into the wilderness.
We will celebrate National Trails Day on June 1st. I encourage you to take a hike on this day and get outdoors this season. As you hike the trails, please join me in thanking the people who have made possible the pathways to mountain tops, trails through bogs, and hikes to camp sites, lodges and huts.