North Country tourism for the future

To the Editor:

Environmentalists, anti wind people and those against the proposed power line through the North Country have got to take a longer look into the future. Sure, tourists come to our neck of the woods to see pristine mountains, clear rivers, wildlife, ski and hike to mountain tops with unspoiled vistas. But we have to move into the 21st century and take a long hard look at the changes that may be necessary to insure the future of tourism in our area. Recent reports on global warming indicate that the snow machine and ski industries may be a thing of the past in thirty years. And people are already building homes all along the ridgelines.

So while some see prisons, power lines, wind towers and land fills as problems, others see them as opportunities!

Gorham's bus tours seeking the majestic moose along the 13 Mile Woods can be replaced with tours of wind farms. Who will not be impressed with mountain tops crowned 400 ft. turbines supported on platforms blasted from native granite? What lover of nature would not love to photograph deer grazing under aluminum turbine shafts? Perhaps some creative contractor could sculpt a stone profile while leveling off a mountain top and we would have a new Old Man of the Mountains! How long would it be until those access roads bulldozed through the boreal forests to service the turbines are toll roads to the summits? And will Sheffield be far behind?

Bethlehem may have lost their grand hotels but they have something unique that tourists will flock to -- a mountain growing before their very eyes! Communities all over the northeast make daily contributions to this phenomena. Visitors might deposit parcels of trash from home so they will feel an authentic link to the White Mountains. Eventually it may become a new ski area, complete with its own source of methane gas to power the lifts and heat its base lodge! How green can you get?

Colebrook will not be left out. It could be the center of four-wheeler trail rides or helicopter flights along the paths cleared for the majestic 100-ft. power lines! Parents could bring their kids to show them where the electricity for their iPods and iPads comes from. During the Christmas season many of the towers near towns could be decorated lighting up the night skies. Photographers will come from near and far to shoot pictures of a new version of "Alpine Glow" as the setting sun paints the towers and power lines in hues of scarlet. Locals may pocket some cash selling pictures and paintings that illustrate what the mountains looked like before the advent of the power lines.

Berlin, St. Johnsbury, Newport, Haverhill and perhaps even Lancaster may provide tourists with guided tours of modern day prison facilities. They can start off in county lock-ups, proceed to state prisons and conclude with one of the largest federal penitentiaries in the country along the banks of the beautiful Androscoggin River. If all goes according to plan, tourists may come and view the future direction incarcerations are taking, privately owned for profit prisons, like the one proposed for Lancaster. Locals could gain employment working in outlets for merchandise produced in prison shops. People moving into the area to be close to those behind the razor wire may help to fill the vacant houses that resulted from mill closings.

All of these visitors will need to eat and sleep somewhere, a boon to the present restaurants and lodging accommodations. So let's not wallow in the past. Now is the time to look to a possible renaissance in North Country tourism and exploit the assets just waiting to bring it about!

Bob O'Connor

Littleton, N.H.

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