September 17, 2004

High ground

John Harrigan writes, in the Union Leader, about past visits to a now abandoned fire tower.

Those were my distance-running days, and I’d half walk, half trot to the top. Like most tower lookouts, Roger did a lot else besides look for fires. He kept data on weather. He relayed search and rescue messages. He noted passing aircraft. He kept track of wildlife.

“Two golden eagles this spring,” he said one year. He also kept a log-book for visitors, and played affable and informative host to people from near and far.

Fire tower lookouts are great public relations for state government, which is why I hate it when the bean-counters win another round and shut down towers in favor of aircraft patrols.

The firetower here on Pawtuckaway Mt. was abandoned for many years, but it is staffed once again, for at least part of the year. The ranger, Kevin, is a terrific ambassador, amateur naturalist, and tourist guide for the Pawtuckaway area.

He will tell you about the Red Tail hawks that visited recently, point out near and distant sights from the tower's high viewpoint (including, on really clear days, the very top of the Hancock building in Boston!), and he's labeled many of the area trees so the visit turns into a mini-class on nature identification.

He says the funding for his staffing of the tower is at risk of being cut in next year's budget. If you think that's a bad idea, call your state rep.

Posted by jackhodgson at September 17, 2004 12:22 PM