ASSESSMENT OF INHOLDERS
ALONG THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
PART TWO: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL
PART THREE: PEOPLE OF THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL
PART FOUR: CONCLUSIONS
PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION INDEX
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vera Burgess (Photo 14)
Vera Burgess has lived over 35 years on her 26 acres near Lyme, New Hampshire (Photo 15). In 1982 her husband, George, died, but this spry widow has always done a large part of the hay farming on the land and she continues to do so. Although her experiences with the Appalachian Trail may appear slightly humorous to some readers, they, nonetheless, illustrate, perhaps in the extreme, the problems landowners encounter with hikers.
The Appalachian Trail has been on Burgess' land since the beginning. Q fact, the AT runs to within 30 feet of Vera's home, one of the closest proximities in the state (Photo 16). Her house is very isolated and the only structure hikers are likely to see on that part of the Trail.
One hiker came to her house and asked her to call the Humane Society for an apparently registered dog which had followed him. Burgess described the hiker's appearance as "creepy" and said that he stayed three hours in her home, eating doughnuts and drinking coffee, while waiting for aid to arrive. During this time the young man described how his mother had given him money so that he could walk the Appalachian Trail in order "to find himself." After continual ramblings about how he "wished he could find himself," the hiker finally left. As he did so, he undid the top of his backpack and showed Vera Burgess that he had a loaded revolver.
Another elderly hiker once called Vera's dog over to his side only to strike the animal with his walking stick. Hikers have often begged for food and entered her house while she has been out in the field on the tractor. Several years back, during a very severe drought, hikers left her hose running after using it for a water supply. Hikers, both male and female, have wandered far off the Trail out onto her pastureland to defecate in her piles of hay. One hiker decided to "hole up" in her woodshed as a rainstorm approached. When Vera told him that he was on private property, the hiker responded, "Oh no. We own 500 feet of each side of the Trail." It would be interesting to know where that hiker received such misinformation.
Admittedly, such boorish and sometimes frightening behavior has been done by only a small minority of people who hike the Appalachian Trail, but it obviously shows that all hikers cannot be pictured as conscientious environmentalists. Finally, after enduring decades of abuse from hikers, to the point where she had to start locking her doors, her future on her land changed for the better. About five years ago, a representative from the office of U.S. Senator John Durkin and Earl Jette, head of the Dartmouth Outing Club, promised Vera that when the new Trail was finally in place it would be off her land and far from her home. Presumably, her long-time problems associated with hikers walking literally through her front and back yard would be over.
Vera Burgess may eventually wish to sell some of her land to the Trail as she gets older, but recent statements from the Appalachian Trail Conference regarding her "willing seller" status have her confused. She has reluctantly hired legal counsel. 4
Lewis Bressett and Ed Brown
Though technically not inholders along the Trail, Lewis Bressett and Ed Brown are caretakers for one of the largest inholdings which borders the AT. Bressett is President of the Hanover Water Works Company (HWWC) while Brawn is Executive Vice-President. Both men are seriously concerned that the present Trail proposed by the Park Service may damage the water supply for the town of Hanover.
The Hanover Water Works Company is a private utility owned by Hanover and Dartmouth College, The water for the town is collected from a small watershed and runs into earthen reservoirs on the large parcels of HWWC land. The Park Service wanted part of the Appalachian Trail in Hanover to cross onto a large corner of the watershed (Area 7 on Map and Photo 17). Brown maintained that this route would invite degradation of the watershed due to the high probability of human waste seepage into the earth which would then flaw downslope into a reservoir. Also, Brown said, the area in question is generally treeless pasture and would be a tempting picnic ground and an area for college parties if converted from HWWC and watershed acreage into public Trail land. AT hikers, then, would only be a part of the problem in despoiling the water supply.
At least as far as the Water Works was concerned, Brown and Bressett both favored that part of the Cioffi-Cunningham Northern route which would have taken the Trail off HWWC property and onto the shoulder of Trescott Road for only about one-half mile (see Yellow line on map). The NPS initially objected to having hikers near a paved road and in sight of the farmhouse of Robert Adams on Trescott Road. If people began congregating and hiking through the watershed, Brown said, and water pollution eventually resulted; the town of Hanover would be forced to construct a treatment plant for the water supply at a cost of several million dollars. With an untrampled watershed, such a facility probably would not be needed.
Ed Brown said that lately the Park Service has begun to see the wisdom of the HWWC's position and, although noncommittal, the agency seems to be moving toward a position of compromise so that the Appalachian Trail might not befoul the drinking water for Hanover. 5
Some Willing Sellers
This report does not want to give the impression that all affected inholders in the Hanover region were upset with Park Service land acquisition. There were same people who willingly sold their land, in both fee and easement, for the purpose of the Trail. Alan Adams was one such inholder. He is a bricklayer who currently lives across the Connecticut River in Vermont. Adams sold 73 of his 110 acres to the NPS, all of it in fee simple. The reason they took so much, he said, was because the agency wanted Adams' beaver pond as an attractive addition along the Trail footpath. Most of the land acquired, even with the bulge allowed for the pond, was border land, Adams had no objection to the AT whatsoever and never felt pressured by the government nor threatened by eminent domain.
Hank Swan is President and majority owner of Wagner Woodlands, a timbering concern which, among other lands, owns considerable property north of Vera Burgess' land near Lyme. Swan sold slightly more than 110 acres in fee simple and about 185 acres in easement to the Park Service. He called his dealings with the agency "very professional" and was able to negotiate the original NPS Trail intent nearer to the border of his land. He was also able to get crossing points along the AT for his business.
Like others, he was originally approached by the Dartmouth Outing Club in earlier years, but quickly realized that organization was speaking on behalf of the Park Service. He understood how this variety of personnel and agencies in the early period might confuse people, but he did not have too much of a problem. He did say, though, that the DOC lacked both communication ability and negotiating strength. He said the Club, "didn't understand the nuances of easements and fee purchase." In his youth, Swan worked for the U.S. Forest Service and was familiar with the appraisal and negotiating techniques of the federal bureaucracy. 6
Gerald and his brother, Howard, are in the process of dividing the various tracts of land left by their late father, Bert Hewes. One 90-acre lot has been targeted adversely by the recent Trail planners, according to Gerald (Area 8 on Map). Originally Appalachian Trail Conference and Park Service officials told Hewes that the Trail would pass through his land along the border with the Bent property (Point 9 on Map). The Trail here would have proceeded through a heavily wooded area of hardwood maples with no structures visible to divert the hiker.
This reasonable proposal was then altered for what Gerald Hewes felt were purely capricious reasons, The AT footpath and corridor were pushed further out onto Hewes land in front of all the maples to an open pasture area (Photo 18). Officials told Gerald that this was done because the view from the newer location was more "scenic.'' The newer route is attractive, but not wooded as the previous one, Additionally, homes can be seen in the distance. Also by this expansion of the Trail Gerald Hewes will lose approximately 35 of his 90 acres and all of his "sugar bush" to the NPS, the area of maples which were used for the production of maple sugar. 7
Alex Filimonov is listed as a "willing seller," but said that he felt pressured into doing so. He sold ten acres of undeveloped land to the NPS for the Trail. It did not have his home on it and had there been more at stake, Filimonov said that he would have resisted the pressure to sell more vehemently, He believed Dartmouth College steered the Trail away from undeveloped land it owned toward his property. In Hanover, he called the College, "the big decider." 8
David and Ann Cioffi (Photo 19)
As was the case with Kevin. Cunningham and his family, the story of David and Ann Cioffi and their family's experience with the Appalachian Trail is long and complex, but worth repeating here for a number of reasons. Among the inholders, David Cioffi was-probably the most active in calling public attention to what he felt was a poor and unfair process of Trail route selection and land acquisition by the federal government. It was Cioffi, along with Kevin Cunningham, who founded the Appalachian Trail Landowners Association (ATLA) late in 1979. This has been the growing organization of disaffected inholders in the Hanover area. Perhaps the most important reason for fully relating the experience of David Cioffi is because his land of concern was the only parcel in the region against which the Park Service instituted condemnation proceedings.
Technically, the Cioffis' inholding is only their house, barn and four acres off Partridge Road (Area 10 on Map). The nearly 70 acres immediately north and east of their land, however, belongs to Ann Cioffi's father, the aforementioned Stuart Stebbins (Area 11 on Map). Stebbins, a semi-retired attorney and in ill health, has indicated that the land will soon be his daughter and son-in-laws. It was this property which was significantly affected by the Appalachian Trail and the elder Stebbins has authorized David and Ann to speak on his behalf regarding the land.
David Cioffi is a native New Englander, born in Vermont. A little over ten years ago he and his wife moved to their present location. The Cioffis are totally committed to the New England lifestyle and its environment, Their house is heated solely by the hardwood cut by David on his land (and, of course., the Stebbins land). He said it takes about eight cords of wood per winter to provide heat. The Cioffis also raise chickens and have two ewes from which Ann has woven two fine wool sweaters. David also does extensive "sugaring" on the upper Stebbins land near the proposed Trail (Photo 20) and, in a good season, is able to sell maple sugar commercially. Despite his high activity on his land, like most other New England landowners, David Cioffi must work away from the land. His primary job is manager of the Dartmouth Bookstore in Hanover, a privately-owned store, not controlled by Dartmouth College. Ann Cioffi is descended from some of the oldest families in that part of New Hampshire. In fact, she can trace her ancestors back to some of the original people in England who incorporated the area of Hanover. The Cioffis and their children want to remain where they are and are more than willing to have the AT on their property, but not to the detriment of their future ability to manage their land in a reasonable manner.
Like the Cunninghams and others in the village of Etna, the Appalachian Trail of decades past and even that adjusted by the state of New Hampshire in the 1970's did not come close to touching the Cioffi-Stebbins land, Thus, when Neil Van Dyke of the Dartmouth Outing Club approached them in the summer of 1978 and talked about a possible route through their land, they thought little of it. To anyone who has lived long in the Hanover region, the appearance of DOC members asking about trail routes is a common occurrence. There are numerous DOC trails in the area and private landowners have traditionally either allowed occasional DOC crossings or declined. It was not until over one later that the Cioffis realized that behind Neil Van Dyke was the full power of the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail had been "finalized" by dissecting the Stebbins land nearly in half, far from the property boundary.
In the meantime there had been several meetings and discussions of the Trail among members of the Dartmouth Outing Club, the Appalachian Trail Conference, the Hanover Conservation Commission, and the National Park Service at which affected landholders were either excluded or never properly notified. The state of New Hampshire, in previous years, had usually notified affected inholders by letter. This did not normally occur in the crucial years of 1977-1979 when the Trail planning was taken over by the Park Service. Meetings were sometimes publicized by a notice on the community bulletin board in downtown Hanover, but there was little effort by the Park Service to contact newly affected landowners in the early stages of the agency's land acquisition plans.
The relocated AT, both the footpath and corridors, cut totally through Stebbins-Cioffi land. Originally a 1000-foot corridor was wanted which would have not only cut the family's land in half, greatly devaluing it according to a local realtor, but would have eliminated David's entire "sugar bush" (as shown in Photo 20) and his plans to clear an upper portion and plant a small orchard. What particularly bothered Cioffi was that most of the proposals and adjustments of the corridor and where it would proceed were made by officials of the Appalachian Trail Conference and the Outing Club. As late as 1981, the ATC still wanted all of the Cioffi maple trees in the corridor, What David Cioffi was encountering were private individuals, not employed by the government, telling him how much land they would like for the Trail, or, in the case of Van Dyke, an individual who identified himself as a DOC member while he was employed by the Park Service.
As mentioned earlier, when Cioffi and his friend, Kevin Cunningham, realized what was happening to them they organized other affected inholders. They drew upon the example of the many unhappy inholders along the Trail in Connecticut who had formed the Appalachian Trail Landowners Organization (ATLO), an organization numbering nearly 90 people. Cioffi and Cunningham named their local group the Appalachian Trail Landowners Association (ATLA). Shortly thereafter they presented their alternative route to the Park Service. David Cioffi admits that the proposed Northern Trail may not have been the best route. Many local people objected to that part of their trail which ran northward along the Connecticut River from Ledyard Bridge. The riverbank is loosely sloped and eroding. The primary objection of Cioffi and the other inholders is not the Trail passing along their land, but the process by which this came about.
For example, David pointed out the role of the Hanover Conservation Commission, a local public body which manages town-owned land. It was this organization which apparently urged the Appalachian Trail Conference and the Park Service to swing out from the AT footpath and gather in Alan Adams' beaver pond as part of the corridor. Although the figures seem inexact, the Commission owns and manages between 900 and 2000 acres of land in Hanover. When the northern route tried to use much of this recreational and undeveloped land as part of the alternative, land already tax-exempt and off the property tax rolls, the Hanover Conservation Commission objected. Not one square foot of Commission land, much of which already has trails, is in the current Park Service Trail. The Commission always told ATLA members that-its land was "too sensitive" or "too fragile" to be protected by the NPS and the Appalachian Trail.
Unlike the Hanover Conservation Commission, the Hanover Conservation Council is a private organization which, through the years, has purchased land it felt in need of protection or desired for other recreation, much as environmental land trusts operate, and then passed title on to local government, or its appropriate body, such as the Hanover Conservation Commission. When the Cioffi-Cunningham. northern route passed through an area known as Balch Hill, most conservationists and others felt that this was a very attractive and scenic part of the trail proposal. Unfortunately, the Hanover Conservation Council owned much of Balch Hill and objected to this AT vigorously, even though the land might be "saved" through federal protection.
To Cioffi and others, then, the history of the Appalachian Trail through Hanover appears more the result of political pressure than any actual environmental consideration. What occurred with regard to his neighbor, Richard Jones, might further illustrate this contention. In 1978 Jones was President of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland and used the land immediately north of the Stebbins land as a summer home. After he learned that Neil Van Dyke and the Park Service were considering a Trail route along his border with Stuart Stebbins, Jones wrote the overall Park Service director of the Trail, David Richie, and complained how this might disrupt the peace of his eventual retirement upon the property. Within months, Van Dyke and the Park Service, unbeknownst to David Cioffi and Stebbins, moved the AT off the logically shared boundary and deep onto Stebbins land. Recently, Richard Jones has since retired and seems willing, according to Cioffi, to compromise and have part of the AT along his border.
Cioffi also agreed with Kevin Cunningham about the enormous influence of Dartmouth College and the institution's willingness to use its power to route the Trail off its land when it chose to do so, As an additional example of this, beyond what was done by the Dartmouth Outing Club, he cited a letter written by Cary Clark, attorney for the College, to U.S. Senator John Durkin which downplayed inholder opposition to the Trail in Hanover and urged rapid completion of the southern Park Service-preferred route.
Again, Cioffi maintained, it was not so much whether their alternative was superior to the Van Dyke-Park Service southern route, but rather the process of how the two were evaluated. Firstly, the inholders were given only 30 days to come up with an alternative despite the fact that apparently the NPS had not seriously looked at alternative trail paths in the two years or so prior when the agency devised its AT.
Second, the evaluation of the Environmental Assessment of the two routes deserves note, Not one single landowner affected by the Trail was selected by the Park Service to review and evaluate the Assessment. Those chosen included local environmentalists, which, oddly enough, in some cases, included their spouses and children, who had already publicly denounced the alternative proposed by David Cioffi and Kevin Cunningham, This supposedly objective group of people, devoid of any inholder input, quickly rejected the northern alternative to the route and recommended the-one laid out by the Dartmouth Outing Club and adopted by the Park Service, Kevin Cunningham angrily called the decision a "kangaroo court."
David Cioffi settled back into a process of trying, at least, to have the AX on his property in a more reasonable fashion, particularly with regard to corridor width and having it moved closer to the property boundary, away from the center of his land. Stuart Stebbins was willing to donate a 250-foot corridor of the land if it were near the boundary line. Despite discussions with ATC and NPS officials in the early 1980's, Cioffi was unwilling to give the government the satisfaction of coming onto his land to inspect and appraise it, He said later that he failed to realize the seriousness of taking a hard line in this detail.
In the summer of 1982 David Cioffi discovered that condemnation procedures had been instituted against the Stebbins land. Part of the reason the Park Service gave for condemnation was that "the failure to negotiate" by Cioffi and Stebbins was holding up the entire Trail through Hanover. In late 1982 Cioffi was able to see the documentation of the NPS case against himself and his father-in-law.
Finally, on February 1, 1983 David Cioffi, accompanied by Kevin Cunningham, was able to have his day in court, of sorts. On that day, in Washington, D.C., he met with senior officials from the Department of Interior and the National Park Service. The Park Service presented its case and Cioffi and Cunningham were able to point out several errors in fact and inconsistencies in the agency's argument, For example, the NPS said that condemnation was justified because Stebbins and Cioffi refused to allow an appraisal, even though the family had previously agreed to it. What had occurred was that in October of 1980 Stuart Stebbins denied the request for appraisal to the Park Service. In late January of 1981, his wife, Phoebe Stebbins, somewhat unknowingly signed the right-of-entry form allowing an appraisal, unbeknownst to David Cioffi. Therefore, the previous agreement to the refusal of Stuart Stebbins, the point in time used by the NPS, was not previous at all. The agreement to appraisal occurred after the denial. The Park Service had attempted to show that the parties had broken their word, when, in fact, the agency had confused its sequence of events.
The pair also pointed out inconsistencies in the Park Service justification for straying from property boundaries shared by two parties and dissecting single-party land plots (which will be discussed further in Part Four). Additionally, Cioffi garnered political support for his position. U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey wrote a letter urging that condemnation not be used against the Stebbins land. The other U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, Warren Rudman, and the Cioffi's Congressman, Judd Gregg, wrote similar letters. Gregg, in particular, resented his vote on AT appropriations being used by the Park Service as justification for condemnation by the NPS. The agency also had maintained that it asked the appropriate politicians to act as "middlemen" between the federal government and Cioffi-Stebbins. Rudman and Gregg denied ever "negotiating" with-them and were angered that the Park Service attempted to use them in such a manner.
When Cioffi met with Interior Department officials in early February of 1983, the paperwork on the Stebbins condemnation was already over at the Justice Department and about to be legally carried forth. After the meeting, Interior called Justice and put the condemnation proceedings on a temporary "hold." The Interior Department gave David Cioffi till the end of the month (Approximately 30 days) to return to the Hanover area and consult with all dissatisfied inholders who had not yet sold out to the government. Interior demanded that the eight or so inholders (essentially most of the members of ATLA) agree together on an Appalachian Trail route through their properties. Cioffi and all of the other affected inholders, mostly in the village of Etna, and the Hanover Water Works, were able to do this within the deadline. In David's case he was willing to have the Trail footpath totally on his land for a Trail nearer the border and with a thinner 250-300-foot corridor, based mostly on easements. After this agreement, the Department of Interior instructed the National Park Service to accept it as a serious basis for negotiation. Interior also put the Stebbins condemnation on permanent "hold". The Cioffi and Stebbins families have since cooperated with the Park Service-regarding surveys and appraisals and the Appalachian Trail appears to be heading through Hanover on a basis of more reconcilable differences among landholders and government. After years of struggle, though, David Cioffi's problems with the Trail are not over. The Park Service still wants a wider corridor on his land than David feels is necessary to protect the Trail.
In one sense, though, the result of Cioffi's meeting with the Interior Department was a victory. Condemnation proceedings were removed from his future land and he was able to convince the federal bureaucracy that he had been misled and, to a large extent, left out of the process of Trail negotiation. The Interior Department implicitly chastised the Park Service and one of the main reasons it did so and ordered the agency to re-negotiate was the obvious confusion faced by landholders in the earlier years. As one senior Interior official said of the inholders initial meetings with the Dartmouth Outing Club and the Appalachian Trail Conference, "They didn't know who they were dealing with." 9
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