According to NH’s Department of Tourism and Travel, over four million visitors make their way to Mt. Washington Valley each year. It’s not lost on the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, the impact that comes with that much of a footprint.
Mt. Washington Valley is lucky to call the White Mountains home. A valley nestled at the base of New England’s highest peak, Mount Washington, and settled amongst 800,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest, visitors and locals alike can discover over 2,000 miles of trails; 48 4,000-foot hikes; a portion of the Appalachian Trail, and Saco and Androscoggin rivers; waterfalls; scenic overlooks; fishing holes, and more.
With everything the White Mountains and Mt. Washington Valley have to offer, it’s not hard to understand why they have become destinations loved by so many who live, visit, and recreate here.
And loved by many they are. According to NH’s Department of Tourism and Travel, over four million visitors make their way to Mt. Washington Valley each year. It’s not lost on the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce (MWVCC), the impact that comes with that much of a footprint. Without the area’s natural resources—from the mountains to the forest to the lakes and rivers—that surround Mt. Washington Valley, telling the story of why one should visit the area or move and make a life here, becomes increasingly difficult.
As a regional chamber, and 600-plus member organization that serves over 20 towns between Maine and New Hampshire, the MWVCC’s mission focuses on marketing the Mt. Washington Valley area as the premier New England vacation destination, and fostering a business climate that promotes growth and collaboration in member communities while protecting the area’s natural resources.
The MWVCC has so much equity in the latter part of its mission; it understands that without its natural resources, the Valley would lose much of what makes it exist as a destination in the first place. In support of this, the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce created the MWV Pledge.
This 10-principle responsibility code encompasses safety precautions and responsibility tenets that cover how to preserve the land and trails; how to treat one another in shared spaces; how to protect the state’s wildlife and the indigenous flora and fauna, as well as how to preserve the state’s waterways. Visitors and locals are encouraged to visit www.mwvpledge.com, sign their name to the pledge, and promise to preserve and protect the White Mountains and its natural resources so we can enjoy them for years to come.
The MWVCC is also an organization that is proud to collaborate with the community it serves. It has worked in tandem with individual towns: organizations such as The Valley Originals, business owners, farmers, guiding outfitters, non-profits, and others in perpetuating the ethos of the MWV Pledge.
Read from five representatives who share what living and working in Mt. Washington Valley means to them, and why signing the MWV Pledge and abiding by its principles is so important when it comes to doing all we can to protect and preserve everything we all love about the Mt. Washington Valley and the White Mountains.
The Valley Originals, Genn Anzaldi, J-Town Deli
Photo by Corey David Photography & Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Valley Originals, a group of 25 locally owned and operated restaurants throughout the Valley, strives to help keep our community a place locals want to live, as well as a place people want to visit over and over again. With that as part of its core values, the Valley Originals wholeheartedly support the MWV Pledge!
As a band of restaurant owners, there are several opportunities to support this initiative. One interesting way is through an intersection of the MWV Pledge’s third and fourth principles; “I Will Trash My Trash,” and “I Will Keep the Wildlife Wild.” All of The Valley Original restaurants use bear-proof trash containers. This keeps bears from camping out in restaurant parking lots and feeding on trash. We also appreciate folks taking the time to properly dispose of their own trash and not littering in parking lots and other public areas. This seemingly innocent, (yet illegal) act can cause unintended ramifications. Bears eat trash that’s not properly disposed of, causing them to become dependent on this food source, instead of foraging in the wild where it is safe for them, and us.
The Valley Originals also calls on principle two regularly: “I Will Treat Others with Respect.” This aspect of the pledge has been especially important to us all during COVID, and beyond. Local businesses have been hit hard when it comes to staffing shortages and supply chain issues. We consider the staff we do have as extended family, and hope visitors treat them as such.
Each restaurant is doing its best to make sure its guests have great service, delicious meals, and a memorable experience. Being kind to each other can make a huge difference for everyone.
Meag Poirier, owner, Wild Roots
Photo by Meag Poirier
I’m Meag Poirier, a small business owner, trail runner, and hiker living full-time in Gorham, New Hampshire. These mountains and trails humble me and provide a daily reminder that our actions matter.
Gorham is right in the middle of the MWV and Androscoggin Valley with direct access to hundreds of miles of trails for a variety of user groups, all within a few miles of our Main Street village. This is both an incredible privilege and a great responsibility for the people who choose to recreate here.
Creating thoughtful momentum around sustainable tourism hinges on our collective ability to preserve and protect the natural assets that surround us, to treat others with kindness, and to remain aware of our responsibility to recreate safely.
As locals, we must stay actively engaged in our community’s trajectory, ask questions, speak up, and do our best to embrace and educate visitors, one conversation at a time. As visitors, we must remember that real people live and work here seven days a week, often directly adjacent to the places where we play and vacation, and though we are welcome, we must be aware of our impact and share this space respectfully.
Embodying the principles of the MWV pledge, among many other initiatives, is, in part, how we make it happen. A sustainable recreation economy is possible.
Pete Gagne, owner, Saco River Tubing Center
The White Mountains and Saco River have been my playground for 30 years. I will never forget the first time I rented a kayak from Canoe King and strapped it on the roof of my Firebird and headed to First Bridge. I was hooked!
I feel fortunate to live in a four-season playground. The community and natural resources are why I live here, but COVID-19 greatly impacted them. With the increase in new users of the area’s trails, lakes, and rivers, the simple mantras that the MWV Pledge teaches, such as “I Will Trash My Trash,” or “I Will Take Only Pictures, and Leave Only Footprints,” helps to educate visitors on how delicate the Valley’s natural ecosystem is.
As a business owner, I rely on new visitors to help grow New Hampshire’s outdoor economy. I provide the opportunity for these families to create lasting memories on the Saco River.
It’s important to me to join a community effort in welcoming visitors and educating them. At Saco River Tubing Center, the staff informs everyone about acceptable river behavior, they provide guests with trash bags, and talk about the Saco River Watershed and how it supplies drinking water to over 200,000 people.
The MWV Pledge is a helpful conversation starter on why all these things are important to ensuring the Saco River is around for generations to come.
Sarah Davis, owner, Davis Natural Produce; written on behalf of the farmers Jake Davis, Celia, and Rick Wilcox
As community members and farm owners of Davis Natural Produce, we rely on the Mt. Washington Valley’s natural resources to grow food for the community. Being a Valley resident brings a source of pride and deep respect for our unique natural landscape, but there is also a sense of responsibility to protect where we live. This is why we align so well with the principles of the MWV Pledge.
Our farm is open to the public and has a unique landscape, as it abuts the White Mountain National Forest. Accessed by the scenic Kancamagus Highway, it runs along the Swift River, which allows us to grow food using river bottom soil. We enjoy the majestic backdrop of the mountains as we farm, and regular sightings of wildlife that roams free on our farm. The commitment of the Valley’s residents and guests to the MWV Pledge helps protect these resources we rely on and, more than anything, profoundly care for.
The ethos of a farmer requires that one be a participant, not just an observer in nature, and perpetuates the interconnectedness of one’s actions and the impact on the environment. It is a farmer’s responsibility to support and advocate a sense of duty and awareness for all who venture into nature.
We hope you will join us in this effort to be kind, aware, and influence others to preserve and respect the Valley’s natural resources—starting with signing the MWV Pledge.
Keith Moon, Lead Guide, and Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School Manager
Photo by Corey David Photography & Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
Mt. Washington Valley is constantly reinventing itself for me. I can ski, hike, and mountain bike, and sometimes do all three in one day. Access to take on every activity is unparalleled in the Valley.
It’s that access, though, that is a real paradox. Being a drivable distance from so many major metropolises in New England, and beyond, means that Mt. Washington Valley sees a lot of people. Forty percent of the U.S. population can drive to Mt. Washington Valley in a single 24-hour drive … and be at a trailhead. Having some of the most easily accessed trailheads means taking a harder look at the initiatives needed to maintain and protect them.
I love to tell people that there are roughly 2,000 trails outside of the well-known and iconic Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Finding new trails to explore to help disperse the number of people determined to climb them is a huge part of resource management as a tourism destination.
As a visitor or a local looking to head into the forest, consider hiring a guide. Call on the expertise of those who have been guiding for years in the White Mountain National Forest. A guide can help you find those hidden gems in the forest’s trail network, and they can keep you safe while doing so.
BECOME ONE OF THE INSIDERS!
Of course, when you visit an area, you want to immerse yourself in the local community. And we want you to feel like Mt. Washington Valley is your home, too. The more it becomes a part of you, the more invested you’ll become in our community. We want you to feel a sense of pride when you visit the area; support its locals, and care for the Valley’s natural resources. Get closer to the culture of Mt. Washington Valley, and become one of its insiders by signing the MWV Pledge.
Find your own special gems in the White Mountains by hiring a guide and spending time at their favorite river spots and on their favorite trails. Meet local characters, shop in stores that locals love, and over time you’ll find your own favorite special gems in the White Mountains.
When you do, you’ll want to join the others who pledge to care for this forest to ensure it sticks around for years to come! For additional information, visit www.mwvpledge.com.
>> Sign your name to the MWV Pledge, today!