Friends Thank US Forest Service for Work on New England Wilderness Act of 2006

On January 4, 2007, the Friends of Sandwich Range and Friends of Wild River met with Forest Service employees in Laconia to congratulate and thank them for their contributions to the passage of the New England Wilderness Act of 2006.  On behalf of the Friends, Judith Reardon presented a commemorative photo montage of the new Wilderness, along with these comments:

"To Tom Wagner and the Forest Service Team:

In 1998, when we began attending Forest Service meetings on revising the White Mountain National Forest Plan, it was hard to envision the eventual passage of a new Wilderness Act for New Hampshire, and hard to envision how much work would be invested by so many Forest Service personnel, extending beyond the District Rangers and the Planning Team and the Public Information staff, to the timber personnel, the recreation and trails personnel, the wildlife biologists, the GIS personnel, and so many others, all providing information to our Forest Supervisor, Tom Wagner.

Tom Wagner gave so much personal attention to the decisions he had to make in formulating the new Forest Plan, including the Wilderness Recommendations for the Sandwich Range and the new Wild River Wilderness. The new Plan contains so many important policies, and maintains a balance of uses in the Forest, and all of these are important to us, because we love the White Mountain National Forest as a whole. We consider it a privilege to live around the Forest, and to have its many attractions to use, and to have opportunities to give back some work to its trails and its issues.

The reason that the Wilderness Recommendation was so important to us is that it sets apart a portion of the Forest where "the imprint of manís work is substantially unnoticeable", to quote from the Wilderness Act of 1964. We human beings are extraordinarily good at changing things, and working hard to improve them. But as we progress, we keep finding some ways in which we havenít improved on Nature, and we find benefits to having some of the ecosystem remain as it has for thousands of years, as it was before we even came here. It creates a biological reserve for the future, and the generations that follow us will want to experience those natural ecosystems as we can today. For many of us, it is soothing to spend time in places where man isnít in total control.

So we thank Tom Wagner, and the District Rangers, and many other Forest Service staff, for spending some time with us in these special places, and for appreciating the role of these places. 18% of the White Mountain National Forest is now Wilderness Ė not an incredibly large percentage, and not an incredibly small percentage, but a very important percentage. The Whites are providing this resource for a major portion of the U.S. population, and it is impressive to calculate that these additions to New Hampshire Wilderness, 34,500 acres of land, increase the total amount of Wilderness from Maine to Maryland by a full 15%!

We thank you all for creating these Wilderness recommendations, which our legislators accepted so readily and finished adopting into law by December 1. Thank you for working with us through the ups and downs of this nearly-9-year process, and for working with all the Forest users. We look forward to continuing a partnership.

As a small memento of our appreciation, we are pleased to present to you this photo montage of pictures from the new Wilderness areas in Wild River and the Sandwich Range."


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