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Hurricane fire tower friends raise funds for summit steward and more

The Hurricane Mountain fire tower has reopened after a springtime COVID-19 closure. (Provided photo — Friends of Hurricane Mountain)

KEENE — The 101-year-old Hurricane fire tower is open again after the springtime COVID-19 closure. It is also staffed with a summit steward to guide and educate hikers. But there are no state funds to pay for that steward.

The pandemic is causing financial problems for state and local governments, and funding for Adirondack Summit Stewards is one of the casualties. So the Friends of Hurricane Mountain volunteer group is fundraising locally to make up for the state shortfall.

The Friends of Hurricane, in coordination with the state, worked during the past few years to restore the fire tower, replacing the stairs, landings, cab floor and fencing around the stairs. Last year a new roof was installed. Still to come are a new map table display for the cab and panoramic photos to aid in identifying the mountains, lakes and other key landscape features seen from the tower.

This is the fourth summer the Friends group has hired a Summit Steward for the tower. The steward educates hundreds of hikers a week on the principles of Leave No Trace, the flora and fauna of the area, other hiking opportunities, the history of the fire tower and other local information. The steward also does trail work, clearing blow-down and trimming back overgrowth.

This year the job also entails encouraging social distancing among hikers flocking to the popular peak.

The Hurricane group also coordinates with the town of Keene’s Front Country Stewards, who are helping direct hikers who land at overcrowded Keene parking lots and trailheads.

To make a contribution, people may send a check to Friends of Hurricane, c/o AARCH, 1745 Main St., Keeseville, NY, 12944, or on the group’s website, at www.hurricanefiretower.org.

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