Concord will look for a new trail ranger to help bring residents back to the trails

  • City forester Ron Klemarczyk shows off the view from Oak Hill to Bill and Helen Weigel on a Trails and Ales hike in April. Brackett Lyons / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/8/2022 5:20:17 PM

Concord’s guided hikes and a new catchy program called Trails and Ales will be on hold as the city seeks to hire a new trail ranger.

The last Trails and Ales hike up Carter Hill was held on the evening of Wednesday, April 20. The next day, police found the bodies of Steve and Wendy Reid miles away on the city’s Broken Ground trails.

Since then, the part-time trail ranger hired by the city to be the day-to-day public ambassador to Concord’s 80-mile-trail system has resigned. The timing was pure coincidence, city officials say, but occurs at the same time some of the city’s trail enthusiasts are worried about safety in the woods.

“We’re still encouraging people to be vigilant. Do whatever you’re comfortable with,” said Concord Assistant City Planner Beth Fenstermacher, who oversees the trail ranger position. “I still go out on the trails every single morning with my dog. But you know, just be more mindful and watch what’s happening around you.” 

Last week police sai they would increase the number of offers going out onto the city’s trails on bikes and ATVs.

“They’re going to be doing patrols over the summer, just to have a presence out on the trails, just to encourage people to get out there and understand that they’re out there watching what’s happening and hopefully give people a sense of safety out on the trails,” Fenstermacher said.

The trail ranger, a new city position created six months ago, was part of Concord’s effort to jump-start interest in its trails. With many hiking enthusiasts driving to the White Mountains, the Concord trails offer a closer and more accessible option for area residents. The city was already looking to ignite interest in the trails prior to the unsolved double homicide. Now hikers are on edge about walking the Concord trails with some not wanting to return until more is known about the killings.

“We have no specific information that would lead us to believe the public in general is at any risk, but with that being said, be vigilant, take your normal daily precautions,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward on April 22.

One of the biggest roles of the trail ranger was to lead the city’s new “Trails and Ales” program that runs through Parks and Rec. The program gives residents the chance to walk a trail with the trail ranger and afterward head off to a brewery for a beer or two.

Beyond Trails and Ales, the trail ranger was tasked with walking the trails and assisting city forester Ron Klemarczyk and volunteers with trail maintenance on Concord’s 30 trail systems.

“The Trails and Open Space Ranger responsibilities include patrolling over 80 miles of trails to provide a day-to-day presence on the trails, and identify and address on-going maintenance and misuse issues,” the city’s initial job posting announced.

Another component of the position was outreach and communicating what good stewardship looks like and reinforcing “leave no trace” principles.

The city of Concord will soon begin the search for a new trail ranger.

The new trail ranger will no doubt have the task of encouraging Concord residents to get back on the trails. The city plans to post the job in the coming weeks so anyone interested should keep an eye out.

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