It seems that outside of the state, many people think New Hampshire goes no further north than the White Mountains, but those people are missing out on Coos County, home to The Great North Woods, an area of small New England villages scattered amongst farmland, rugged forested mountains and the headwaters of two of New England’s mightiest rivers – the Connecticut and the Androscoggin. Sportsmen love its old-time feel, lack of touristy kitsch, and abundance of fish and game. It’s a snowmobiling and ice fishing mecca in winter, and hikers are slowly being turned on to its trails due to the construction of the long-distance Cohos Trail during the last two decades. It feels remote, quiet, and wild.
Coos County is also the place that will be most changed by Northern Pass, as the first 40 miles of the proposed electricity line will be built in a newly, yet to be acquired right of way through the county. The above view of the Connecticut River in Pittsburg is one possible location where the lines will first make their way into New Hampshire from neighboring Quebec.
The above undeveloped valley of forest and wetlands in Stratford looked to be at risk when Northern Pass first announced their project. They have since rescinded that original proposal and are now working on alternative routes.
One of the frustrations with Northern Pass is that they have yet to announce their route through Coos County, but it seems that just about any route they pick will negatively impact views like these. (see my post The Power of Place – Thought for the Day, April 18, 2013 to see how they keep missing their own deadlines for announcing this route.) Any of these places may potentially bear the scar of industrialization that the transmission lines and towers will bring.
The Cohos Trail, a 162-mile hiking trail which connects the White Mountain National Forest with the Quebec border in Pittsburg, traverses several peaks in the Nash Stream State Forest that will most likely have unfortunately great views of Northern Pass.
In 2011, Northern Pass made an offer to buy 5800 acres in Dixville Notch owned by the Balsams Grand Resort, one of only a few of the dozens of grand hotels that were part of the New Hampshire tourist culture in the late 19th and 20th century. The owners of the Balsams instead chose to sell a conservation easement to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests that will prevent the construction of transmission lines on this incredible property. However, Northern Pass is now attempting to secure a right-of-way that goes around the Balsams, which will potentially be visible from the dramatic cliffs in the Notch that are popular with hikers.
I realize there are a lot of unknowns regarding exactly what’s at stake. I can’t say for sure that any of these views are threatened by Northern Pass, but these photos are indicative of the Coos County landscape, and no matter what route they eventually choose there, I believe we will be losing several views that are worth fighting for.
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