March 3, 2014

BSP Rangers Study Avalanche Hazard



The following report was submitted by BSP Ranger Isaac Needell:

Baxter State Park rangers train in many disciplines throughout each year. This February, six rangers attended a four-day American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level 2 course hosted at Chimney Pond Campground. This course builds upon a foundation set by the AIARE Level 1 course, which familiarizes students with avalanche terrain, hazards, trip planning, and basic companion rescue techniques.

The AIARE Level 2 class focuses in on the science of how the snowpack forms, how it changes overtime, and what these changes mean for snow stability. The course also builds upon the rescue techniques covered in the Level 1 class by introducing more complicated avalanche burial scenarios.

Over four full days, rangers trained in multiple locations spread across the Great and South Basins on Katahdin. Snow pits were dug on Saddle Slide, on the Cathedral trail, at the base of Waterfall Gully and Cilley-Barber technical routes, and in the Chimney Pond Campground. Complex avalanche beacon search simulations involving multiple buried victims were conducted daily by both groups and individual rescuers. Many hours were spent observing, evaluating, and recording the characteristics of the different layers of the snowpack present on Katahdin.


Rangers digging and studying snow pits on the Cathedral Trail

Tools of the trade include shovels, snow axe, recording books and a warm pair of gloves
Snow pit evaluations allow rangers to provide information to park users regarding the stability of the snowpack and the avalanche hazard present on Katahdin and in Baxter State Park. The snow conditions can be used much like weather observations to give visitors a piece of information to help them make safe decisions while enjoying the park. Winter visitors who are planning to enter possible avalanche terrain must be able to recognize avalanche risks and are responsible for their decision to enter such terrain. The observations made by park rangers are one important piece in a much larger decision making process that lies with each winter visitor.

The Saddle Trail during the AIARE Level 2 course.
A sample snow pit graph put together during the AIARE courses


For more information on avalanche trainings, visit the AIARE at: http://avtraining.org/

December 19, 2013

Keep Lot North Conservation Easement Protects Historic Lot on Katahdin Lake


Baxter State Park Authority Accepts Conservation Easement on Katahdin Lake

At a special meeting of the Baxter Park Authority on Monday, Authority members voted unanimously to accept the “Keep Lot North” conservation easement granted by heirs of the James Sewall family covering an historic parcel of land on the shores of Katahdin Lake.

Sewall Family members Tingey Sewall of Boston MA, University of Maine Chancellor James Page of Old Town, ME and Thomas Gary of Mashpee, MA, offered an unconditional gift of various conservation rights on 43 acre parcel including over 500 feet of shore frontage on scenic Katahdin Lake in Baxter State Park.

Over 4,500 acres of private land surrounding Katahdin Lake was gifted to Baxter State Park in 2006.  The Sewall tract was not included in the gift and remains as a privately owned “in-holding” surrounded by land owned and managed by the Baxter State Park Authority.  An adjacent in-holding owned by the Huber Family and Corporation was donated to the Park in 2012.

The 43 acre parcel was originally a part of a 200 acre parcel provided to the Reverend Marcus Keep of Patten, ME by the Maine Legislature in 1860 in recognition of the work Reverend Keep had done in establishing some of the first hiking trails to access Katahdin.  Keep Ridge on Katahdin is named after Reverend Keep.  James W. Sewall purchased the Keep Lot in 1901.  Although some of the original Keep Lot was sold, Sewall retained the 43 acre lot that includes stunning views of Katahdin.





The Keep Lot North Conservation Easement permanently protects the lot from commercial or industrial development and provides permanent protection to the wildlife, water and scenic values of the parcel.

Park Director Jensen Bissell stated “This generous and foresighted action by the Sewall heirs provides the final piece of protection needed on Katahdin Lake.  Together with the Huber donation in 2012 this conservation easement ensures that Katahdin Lake will forever remain the pristine and beautiful Maine lake envisioned by Percival Baxter.”