By Kim Votta, Margret & H.A. Rey Center
You would be hard-pressed to miss the distinctive peaks of Welch and Dickey mountains as you make your way along Route 49 in route to our beloved Waterville Valley. The folks at the Rey Center had these special peaks in mind when they recently applied for a Waterman Fund grant. The Rey Center was one of four New Hampshire organizations awarded funds to support efforts in alpine environment stewardship.
The $2,275 grant awarded to the Rey Center will fund The Welch Ledges Stewardship and Citizen Science Program which, through a combination of instructor-led education sessions, citizen science data collection, and mountain steward presence, will teach both the public and organized hiking groups about the exceptional plant species that inhabit the exposed and frequently visited Welch Ledges and the importance of the site as an educational tool in understanding our higher alpine environments. The Welch Ledges Stewardship and Citizen Science Program builds on a growing interest in engaging the public as monitors of our natural places. The Rey Center will use the accessible Welch Ledges as a springboard to educating the public about the importance of northeastern alpine environments and their vulnerability to visitor impacts. The ledges are generally the first exposed and expansive area reached by hikers along the popular 4.2-mile loop hike over Welch and Dickey Mountains.
You can help! The Rey Center is seeking volunteers to support their efforts. As a Volunteer Ledge Steward, you can spend one day or several on the Welch Ledges educating hikers about the plant communities that live there and ongoing efforts to protect them. Stewards will also direct hikers safely among the outcrop plant communities on the ledges and ensure directional and educational signage is in place.
There are several stewardship dates available: 6/30, 7/1, 8/4, 8/5, 9/1, 9/2, 10/6, and 10/7. Each stewardship session lasts four hours from 10am – 2pm. Volunteer Ledge Stewards must be available to attend an all-day training on Saturday, June 23.
Or…you can choose to join Rey Center research staff on Welch Mountain to help conduct population surveys of the plant species that characterize the unique outcrop communities that live there. As a Welch Ledges Citizen Scientist, you will be actively engaged in helping us establish an ongoing monitoring effort that will contribute to the long-term health of these plants and efforts to manage the impacts of frequent hiker visitations. There are two citizen science sessions scheduled: 7/18 and 8/1. Each citizen science session lasts three hours from 9am – 1pm.
Perhaps you would just like to learn a little bit more about this wonderful mountain. Then join us on a Welch Ledges Stewardship Hike on Saturday, July 21, from 9am – 12pm. Meet us at the Welch and Dickey Loop trailhead and experience Welch Mountain’s spectacular granite ledges on a short hike with big rewards including, great views, beautiful mountain scenery, and an opportunity to learn about the mountain’s natural history and unique environment. The support of the Waterman Fund allows us to offer this program to the public free of charge.
To become a Volunteer Ledge Steward or Welch Ledges Citizen Scientist contact Kim Votta at [email protected] or at (603) 236-3308. If you would like to attend the Welch Ledges Stewardship Hike on July 21, email [email protected] or call (603) 236-3308. Pre-registration for the Stewardship Hike is requested.
Since 2000, the Waterman Fund has raised over $300,000 for alpine stewardship projects across New England. The Fund, named in memory of the late climber and outdoors writer Guy Waterman, and in honor of his wife Laura, has the goal of strengthening the human stewardship of the open summits, exposed ridgelines, and alpine areas of the Northeast.