Board of Directors 1998-99
Dear Members and Friends:
At this time last year I appealed for you to help the Randolph Mountain Club cope with the terrible ice storm which had just devastated the Randolph area. Much of our 100-mile trail network was rendered impassable, and the situation looked pretty bleak. Thanks to you, the Club was able to overcome this extraordinary challenge!
I am delighted to report that RMC members and friends gave us overwhelming support -- both by giving generously and by volunteering in force -- and that we fully restored our trail system, even though large sections of forest will bear the marks of this storm for years to come. Fortunately, in addition to clearing literally thousands of blowdowns, the RMC was able to complete its full agenda for the year.
An early challenge grant from the Randolph Foundation gave the board the confidence to act swiftly in hiring a special crew to work on the trails as soon as the snow was off the ground. Gifts from members and friends -- over $26,000 -- far exceeded expectations. We were also able to secure disaster-relief funds from the U.S. Forest Service, as well as a hand in some trail clearing. Special recognition should go to Doug Mayer, a board member who already donates significant time and energy to the Club, for our success in dealing with the storm's destruction, as well as the many volunteers who dragged brush on a number of weekends.
The RMC converted one of its regular trail crew slots to a new position -- working field supervisor. We were fortunate to hire Jack Bell, an experienced and effective leader, to take over the day-to-day coordination of the trail crews and camp caretakers. Because he was able to give these areas his full attention, Jack enabled these employees to accomplish their work efficiently, without wearing out our volunteers. Based on last summer's experience, we plan to fill this position this summer.
The Senior and Student Conservation Association trail crews met their goals. Besides patrolling the whole trail network, they completed significant erosion-control work on the Brookside and installed over 100 tamarack and cedar bog bridges on some much-used lower trails on both sides of Rt. 2. Jack Corbin, an experienced woodworker, built a handsome replacement bridge in memory of Caroline Cutter Stevens over Snyder Brook at the intersection of the Brookside and Randolph Path.
Next summer, the crews plan to finish the Brookside and begin work on the Owl's Head Trail in Jefferson. Both the Owl's Head and Starr King Trails are part of the newly established Cohos Trail, a through-trail system which will soon allow backcountry hikers to walk the length of Coös County. Thanks to the generosity of the Reavis Foundation, the RMC was able to purchase special equipment which will allow trail crews to "skyline" boulders for use in constructing rock steps and waterbars.
The Club has made a substantial investment over the years in hand tools, chainsaws, and other specialized equipment, adequate to outfit our trail crews. This equipment is now temporarily housed in a garage, but, as a consequence, the owner has no room for his own car. We are looking for a more permanent place to store these tools. If you have such a space available, please let either Doug Mayer or Ben Phinney know.
Because of this year's exceptionally strong financial support, the Club was able to install a Bio-Sun composting toilet at Gray Knob, thus completing a multi-year plan to bring all the camp toilets up to today's more environmentally friendly standards. A $3,000 grant from the Appalachian Trail Conference gave a great boost to pushing this project forward. Those of us on the board are eagerly looking forward to meetings where the agenda is not bogged down with "toilet" discussions! Former trail boss Andy Woods and Jeff Smith (who will return this summer) were excellent caretakers, cheerfully welcoming overnight guests and completing a number of maintenance projects. A collection of hand tools purchased this year for the camps will allow caretakers to do routine upkeep. All the final tallies are not in, but camp-stay usage remained strong throughout the year. The board voted to keep the current overnight fee structure: $8 a night at Crag and Gray Knob and $5 at The Perch and Log Cabin. [Webmaster's Note: Overnight fees in 2011 are now $13 a night at Crag and Gray Knob and $7 at The Perch and Log Cabin.]
Events, Trips, Randolph Paths and Website
Thanks to the generosity of Joan and Alan Horton and the Randolph Foundation, the Annual Picnic site at Mossy Glen was greatly improved last summer. The RMC and young people in the Trailmaster's program worked together to install new stone steps, greatly enhancing everyone's safety when climbing the steep-sided amphitheater.
The Club's social events -- the Fourth of July Tea at Sky Meadow, the Rendezvous, the Annual Meeting, and the Picnic -- were, as usual, a success. Under Jack Stewart and Edie Tucker's direction, July and August were replete with hikes of all levels of difficulty. A new "color" edition of "Randolph Paths," dedicated to Jack Stewart, was unveiled at the Tea and has been selling well. A timely loan from the Randolph Foundation, now fully repaid, allowed this project to go forward. The new guidebook with a map in the pocket is available for $10 from Edie Tucker on Durand Road and at the Lowe's, as well as at a number of nearby bookstores and sporting goods stores. The softcover book may also be purchased by mail for $12.
Thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours of work by Jeff Smith (Crag caretaker in 1998), the RMC has its own Website -- http://www.randolphmountainclub.org. Both hikers and potential employees now expect to find good information and to be able to apply for work online. After considerable debate, the board overcame its fears that developing a site would increase camp usage and decided it was better to craft our own site than have others posting inaccurate information. Likely some day this decision will seem as routine as issuing our own maps and guidebooks.
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in finding ways to preserve the character of the area through various forms of land protection. The board has discussed this at its own meetings and at the 1998 Annual Meeting. We think the best way the Club can help is by working together with landowners who would like to see RMC trails continue to cross their land. We understand that footpaths may be only one of several desired uses on a property and that in some cases maintaining a "hand-shake" agreement with the Club may best meet a landowner's objectives. For others, making more formal arrangements could have longer term benefits for the Club and for them. We are eager to hear from those who would like to discuss these possibilities and ask that inquiries be directed to Ben Phinney, in care of the Club.
Due to the great effort, time and skill of Jeff Tirey, Treasurer, the Club's financial administration has been significantly upgraded with ever more sophisticated computerized reporting and budgeting processes. Thanks in large part to very generous giving, our financial condition is strong. Gifts were made in memory of Earle Beebe, Clark Bennett, Helen Hatch, Klaus and Erica Goetze, Milton Smith, Caroline Stevens, and Andrew Tucker. As the Treasurer's Report shows, the Club ended the year on a cash basis with a net plus of $25,330! Except for the ice-storm cleanup, which far exceeded our expectations, expenses were generally in line with the budget.
Special mention should be made of a new endowment fund of over $10,000, given by the family and friends of the late Milton Smith, a dear friend and long-time Club member. Income from this permanent endowment will be used to help cover trails maintenance expenses in future years. The Club has also created several reserve funds to be better prepared for calamities, such as ice storms or fires, and to set aside money now in anticipation of major repairs to the camps and trails. Including special reserves, the Club had total cash equity of $55,930 on Dec. 31.
We're looking forward to the coming year and hope you feel that your Club is being well managed. We thank you for your tremendous support last year, but hasten to ask that you continue to pay your dues and, if possible, add a donation to assist the Club in its work. Gifts continue to be an important part of our annual budget.
Thanks for your help and enthusiasm,