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Group: Cog Railway's New Mt. Washington Trail Is Illegal

Via The Cog Railway's Facebook page

A New Hampshire nonprofit says a new trail atop Mt. Washington was built illegally. The Cog Railway company recently cleared the three-mile path to the summit on its own land – and it disagrees.

The new trail covers an old trench, dug when the state ran a powerline along the train tracks to the summit in 2010. The group Keep the Whites Wild argues the Mt. Washington Cog Railway has really built a road, which could hurt the still-recovering area.

Lawyers for the nonprofit have asked Coos County Commissioners to find the railway violated zoning rules by not getting a permit for the project. They want the railway to put the trail back to its natural state.

Commissioners didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update: County officials confirmed the issue is on the commission's agenda for Dec. 13.]

But railway president Wayne Presby says he didn’t feel the trail needed a permit. He says it’s not as big as a road, and will mostly handle small maintenance vehicles, for now.

“It’s very, very rough. … It isn’t like you can drive a car or a pickup truck or any of those types of vehicles up there...it wouldn’t go up the trail. Or a full-size snowcat – that’s way too wide.”

Presby says the trail is a good shortcut to the summit, so he might try running bigger, passenger S Snow Cat vehicles there in the future. He says that would require a lot more testing.

(NOTE: This story was updated Friday to indicate that county officials confirmed the issue is on the commission's agenda for Dec. 13.)

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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