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Pine Park trustees ponder future

  • Foresters, Pine Park Association board members, Dartmouth college officials and Hanover town officials take a tour of Pine Park in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The group gathered to talk about how to begin to clean up and restore the park after a logging operation. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Robert Houseman, left, Director of the Planning, Zoning and Code Department in Hanover, N.H., and Frank Roberts, Associate Vice-President of Facilities Operations and Management at Dartmouth College, look at the tree canopy during a tour of Pine Park in Hanover on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. They are standing by the Cathedral Aisle Trail in the park, which now closed due to the risk of falling trees after a logging operation in the park. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Maisie runs along a trial in Pine Park in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Her owners were on a walk-through of the park to talk about the next step to take after a logging operation in the park. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kent Dahlberg, left, Bill Brown, Heidi Eldred and Martha Beattie all of Hanover, N.H., listen during a walk-through of Pine Park in Hanover, N.H. on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Dahlberg is a Dartmouth campus minister and is part of a committee studying the future of the golf course and the others are Pine Park Association trustees. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Foresters, Pine Park Association board members, Dartmouth college officials and Hanover town officials walk along a trail in Pine Park in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The group gathered to talk about how to begin to clean up and restore the park after a logging operation. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth College faculty cut wood at Pine Park in Hanover, N.H., in a circa. 1906 photograph. In an agreement dating back to 1913, the nonprofit Pine Park Association owns the park’s roughly 95 acres while the town and college oversee its maintenance. (Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library)



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, May 18, 2019

HANOVER — Barry Harwick long ago lost count of how many hours he’s spent roaming Pine Park.

As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College in the mid-1970s, he ran many a mile through the 95-acre preserve just north of downtown Hanover, both with his cross country teammates and on his own.

And after he returned to his alma mater in the early 1990s, the mini-forest primeval full of tall pines and hemlocks along the Connecticut River and on ridges left by glaciers — especially the Cathedral Aisle Trail through the heart of the preserve — looked much the same, whether he was pushing each new generation of Dartmouth cross country competitors through workouts or running to stay fit for his own masters races.

“Time stood still for decades,” Harwick said last week.

Standing at the edge of the Cathedral Aisle on Thursday morning, Harwick saw how much has changed, during a tour of the park with trustees from the Pine Park Association board, a couple of trustees’ dogs, a representative of the Hanover Conservancy, several forestry consultants and two leaders of the college’s department of facilities operations and management.

After a winterlong logging project to clear out trees infected with a pernicious fungus as well as an infestation of beetles, the trail now stands wide-open to the sky, while slash from the operation litters its floor.

And now the hard work begins: The various parties — the park association, which owns the land, and the college and the town, which are charged by a century-old agreement with managing the preserve — will spend still more time together, figuring out how to clear the slash, re-marking the trails through the park, monitoring the health of the remaining trees and figuring out how to pay for both the short-term and the long-term expenses.

“There’s a question of where maintenance starts, and where envisioning — which is our responsibility — begins,” board of trustees President Linda Fowler said at the end of the tour. “The trustees at some point will have to go to the community to raise dedicated funds, in a way we’ve never done before.

“We have no idea what the costs will be at this point.”

Dartmouth College supervised and picked up the costs for the initial clearing, paying Garland Lumber of North Conway, N.H., to fell and haul out thousands of feet of logs over snow-covered connecting trails.

While the ensuing clearing of 4 acres looks stark now, consulting forester Alex Barrett said, “In silviculture terms, I would not call this a clear-cut. They were able to save quite a lot. It took longer than expected because they did it very carefully.”

 

Another consultant for the park association, Thetford resident Jeff Smith, of Butternut Hollow Forestry, said that the loggers took care with little time to hesitate, given the threat of the fungus spreading.

“We were at the 12th hour, versus 6 o’clock,” Smith said. “The options here were (to) do what we did or do nothing.”

And the work is far from over. Cathedral Aisle will stay closed at least for the rest of 2019 while the leftovers are cleaned out and the route re-graded. Meanwhile, the coalition of the Pine Park trustees, college officials and the town of Hanover will continue conferring on where and how obtrusively to mark the overall trail system; recreational athletes were running on parts of the system Thursday morning.

“The big concern we have right now is making this look less horrible, assessing the priorities of what we’re going to fix first,” said Fowler, a Dartmouth professor-emerita of political science. “It’s a very long-term project. It’s going to be expensive.”

They will be getting in-kind help. The nonprofit Hanover Conservancy has decades of experience with maintaining open land for public use, and the trustees will ask the Upper Valley Trails Alliance about recruiting volunteers to help clear away debris from Cathedral Aisle and other paths on June 1, National Trails Day.

And Julie Moir Messervy, a landscape designer from southern Vermont whose parents enjoyed Pine Park late in their lives in Hanover, pledged her expertise as well.

“I know how this looks and how it feels,” Messervy said at the edge of the Cathedral Aisle clearing. “I also know how important this is to do.

“I’m here to see if there’s anything we can do to help.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or at 603-727-3304.

Correction

Julie Moir Messervy is a landscape designer based in Saxtons River, Vt. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described her profession.