Click here to view photos by Matt Donachie

Members In Attendance: Laura Susmann, Jack Kondos, Matt Edson, Jim Schofield, Kim Nilsen, John Herrick, Beth Phippard, Matt Donachie, Abrahm Howe, John Hudachek, Jack Kondos, John Summers, Jon Knickerbocker

President Matt Edson called tonight’s meeting to order at 7:03 pm

Jon Knickerbocker moved to accept the minutes of our previous meeting as written, the motion was seconded, and the motion was approved unanimously.

Matt began the meeting by indicating that he feels that that State of New Hampshire has really stepped up this year, and we have been working closely together. Patrick has been very helpful to us, as has our new regional rep (Meredith Collins). 

•Through their efforts, Whip now has a brand new ATV for use in the park, and this has been very helpful to Whip and FOP members in doing trail work. Many thanks went out to Whip for the hard work that he has been doing.

•Patrick nominated FOP for a Spirit of New Hampshire volunteer award. That award was received about a week ago at a very nice award ceremony in Concord. 

•A future project is related to an RTP grant that was written by Kim for $23000 to work on improving parts of the Kilburn trail including culverts, road and trail repairs, regarding, etc. Patrick was supportive of our efforts to seek funding, and FOP was approved for those funds, despite the highly competitive nature of the process. Particular thanks go out to Kim Nilsen and Matt Edson for their hard work and excellent writing skills that resulted in us being awarded this grant!

After a couple of years of negotiations, we have finally completed and signed an MOA with the state of New Hampshire (DRED). In Matt’s opinion, the MOA provides a good framework to follow for us, and for the state, and it provides some clarity and protections for both parties. 

•Numerous improvements have been made to the park over the last year. For example, the Reservoir Road has been greatly improved with lots of gravel and fill has been added.  This project was funded and completed by the folks from New Hampshire Division of Parks. Chestnut Hill Parking lot is now being rebuilt; FOP members have been installing all new signs and blazes to better mark trails; many bridges have been repaired or replaced, and we have built a viewing platform and overlook at the Heron Rookery.

FOP has also had a successful year financially. We made a fair amount of money from the trail race (although not as much as the previous year). We had some trouble with signage for the race, and one runner gave us a $50 check for signage in the park. We also received a check for $500 from Josh Gillingham, race organizer for Pisgah Mountain Trail Race. Many thanks to all who worked on both races! 


Nominations were made for one year terms officers including Matt Edson for president, Kim Nilsen for Vice President, John Hudachek for Treasurer, and Jim Schofield for Secretary.  Kim made a motion that we adopt those nominations, and this was seconded. Hearing no other nominations from floor, a vote was taken and the above names were approved unanimously.

Nominations were also made for terms of 3-year-terms for the Council including Matt Donahue, John Knickerbocker, and John Herrick. No other nominations were made from floor, so motion was made and seconded. These individuals were approved unanimously.

Kim explained some proposed changes to the FOP bylaws. One change was added about the Dort Property and one other small property that we now own. Another change in language was related to keeping the safety of the public in mind at all times and in all that we do. Another change was removing the restrictions on term limits for officers. Finally, other statements were added about operating in a low impact manner, and about FOP carrying insurance for liability, and Errors and Omissions insurance for the board. These proposed changes were made into a motion, seconded, and approved unanimously by the group. The revised bylaws were signed by Matt Edson and Jim Schofield, and will now be filed with Attorney General.

In the next part of the meeting, several members of the audience spoke up about the need for us to preserve the wild and beautiful nature of Pisgah State Park. There were questions and concerns brought up about balancing the forest management needs of the state, with the desire to preserve the park’s natural beauty, and the public’s desire to use the park for recreational activities. The issue of wanting and needing 300-foot buffers was discussed.

•The Business portion of meeting was adjourned at 7:41, so that the group could hear a presentation by Kim Nilsen.

Kim’s Presentation: 12,000 Years Lost in Pisgah State Park (An Unauthorized History).

Following the business portion of the meeting, Kim Nilsen presented a very interesting and thought-provoking talk and slide show. A brief summary or overview of his presentation is presented below.

Kim’s presentation essentially traced the biological, anthropologic, and social history of the Pisgah area over thousands of years. He described this as a real history, but different than what we might see in history books. He talked about the Native Americans, the Europeans, and Clovis people who inhabited the area even before the Native Americans. 

During this presentation, Kim talked about the presence of a huge ice cap that existed over North America 12,000 years ago, and the subsequent, and relatively rapid melting and retreating of that ice cap. This caused massive changes in the flora and fauna that occupied the area. Tundra vegetation and large mammals moved from Canada tot his area including caribou and large bears. Subsequently, humans moved in, primarily because of the availability of those large animals (mega fauna) for food. The Clovis people were the first group to move in, bringing innovations such as the very useful Clovis point.

As the things were going well, something sinister came out of the night sky. Earth passed through a very large comet debris field approximately 11900 years ago, and some of the debris struck the planet pretty hard, narrowly missed Pisgah State Park. The impact generated huge mounts of heat, and the North American continent burned.  Shrapnel headed south at tremendous speeds. The mega fauna (big animals) were gone instantly, so were the Clovis. This also reversed the ice age. Slowly the forests came back, and smaller creatures indigenous to Mexico came back to our area, as did nomadic humans.

The new residents of the area fished by day, and spear fished by night.  Their skills were great, and they were unparalleled hunters.  They made nearly everything they needed for their daily living, and traded with other tribes who had things that they needed. Life was good until about 1491, when our European relatives showed up.  European diseases spread quickly (diseases associated with domesticated animals) such as small pox, measles, mumps, etc. within a few hundred years, many Indians died off from those diseases. 

Europeans settled the land. If you were lucky enough to get a piece of land from land granters, you were good. However, they had to clear land, plant crops, but the land was exceptionally rugged, and covered with rock. The people who had a beaver bog were blessed because you could drain the bog and then immediately plant that bog. It was the most fertile soil anywhere in the park. After draining the bog and planting, your next task was to build a cabin using the logs that you had cut. Prior to that, they were just in lean-tos. Clearing of land in Pisgah went on and on and on.  Lots of wood needed for burning, building and making Potash that could be sold for cash. Potash was used for a variety of things. For example, it was mixed with lye to make soap, and potassium fertilizer. They worked devilishly hard all day everyday, every single day. They also made stills to make and sell liquor.

Every homestead also had to have plenty of potable water.  Cooking was very difficult, and keeping fire going for heat in long cold winters was very hard work. Their winters in 18th century were about 2 degrees colder than what we have now. The year 1816 was a famously brutal winter for ice and cold. One in four people in New Hampshire left due to the cold. 

Breaking up the soil was needed to be able to plant a cash crop. This was very difficult work here in Pisgah, but it was a matter of life and death, so people worked very hard every day. Trying to grow lots of beans for protein in winter was particularly important. Shucking corn was done day in and day out. They stacked hay up high and arranged it on top so that water would run off. Lots of trapping was done. There were no doctors, but lots of births that were assisted by neighbors. People dug the graves for deceased relatives. Building of gristmills to grind flour and grain became important. Life was hard, and the winters were long. People would gather together for all kinds of reasons just to pass the time.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Schofield, Secretary