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Shelters

Current Shelter Status

Camp Heermance prior to removalCamp Heermance, Shehadi, and Rich are gone!  Although camping is legally permitted at all three shelter sites, it is discouraged on Mt. Whiteface due to limited space and fragile conditions.  If you do camp in this area, it is particularly important to follow Wilderness and low-impact guidelines, including the use of stoves (instead of wood fires) and proper disposal of human waste.  The Camp Rich site is the only location that can accommodate moderate use, but proper planning and camping practices are still essential to the ongoing protection and restoration of this site.  Please help us preserve the Sandwich Range Wilderness for future generations to enjoy!

Background Information

The three WODC shelters dated from an earlier period of hiking, before the advent of portable stoves and light-weight tents.  In recent years the shelters were valued more for their historic significance than as a comfortable place to spend the night.   Being within the Sandwich Range Wilderness, options for restoring or replacing the shelters were limited.  The 1989 SRW Management Plan called for removal of the shelters when they required major repair, and in 2002 the USFS completed the removal of all three shelters.

Camp Heermance
old photo
The frail structure was removed by the USFS in the Fall of 2001.  To protect the summit area of Mt. Whiteface, tenting near the shelter site is discouraged.
Camp Rich
old photo
After years of steady decay, Camp Rich collapsed in 2000, and has been completely removed by the USFS.
Camp Shehadi
old photo
The most stable of the three shelters, but with a wet, earthen floor and steady decay.  Removed by the USFS in the Spring of 2002.

Recent History

August 1998:  Due to the poor condition of Camp Heermance and Shehadi, WODC members  at Annual Meeting voted without dissent to recommend the removal of these two shelters.  In addition to eliminating structural hazards, it was felt that removal of the shelters would reduce the amount of overnight use on the fragile summit of Mt. Whiteface.   The same motion also called for ongoing maintenance of Camp Rich, to the extent permitted under Wilderness management guidelines.

Spring 1999: USFS issues a scoping letter proposing the removal of all three shelters.   After heated discussion at the 1999 Annual Meeting, WODC members voted by a slim margin to recommend retention of all three shelters.

March 2000:  USFS continues to study the disposition of the shelters.  Due to the complex Wilderness and historic issues, a decision is likely to take some months.

Spring of 2000: Camp Rich collapsed.  Shelter is no longer available at this site.

Summer of 2000: NH State Office of Historic Preservation determines that the WODC shelters (and in fact, the entire WODC trail system) are eligible for inclusion in the the National Register of Historic Places.  This decision does not mandate any specific management action by the USFS, other than requiring that any plan must include appropriate measures to recognize and document the shelters' historic value.

Fall 2000: Preliminary decision made by the USFS to remove all three WODC shelters.  The removals will be conducted in order to reduce the signs of human presence in the Sandwich Range Wilderness, and will include measures to document the role of the  shelters and their important history.   The shelters are likely to be removed during 2001, so alternate plans should be made for camping in these areas.

Fall 2001: Final decision reached by the USFS to remove camp Rich, Heermance, and Shehadi.  Camp Heermance removed late in 2001, with Shehadi and Rich planned for removal in the Spring of 2002.  Due to the historic nature of the shelters, the USFS is working with the WODC and other parties to memorialize the shelters through appropriate publications and trailhead displays.

Spring 2002: Camp Shehadi and Rich removed, as well as the Heermance toilet (on Mt. Whiteface.)  The toilet at the Camp Rich site is being retained, pending replacement with an "open-air" design that is better suited for Wilderness.

Summer 2002: As part of the shelter removal process, the USFS prepared a preliminary  design for a new Ferncroft Kiosk, including a historical profile of the shelters and the WODC trail system.  The proposed display also includes expanded Wilderness information, low-impact visitor guidelines, and an enhanced presentation of the WODC map.

Spring 2004:  The new Ferncroft kiosk is complete.  It includes an enlarged copy of the WODC Map, a panel of hiker information, and a historical panel concerning the trails and shelters.

 

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