‘River Dave’ arrested after returning to live at New Hampshire cabin site


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This undated photo provided by Jodie Gaydon shows 81-year-old David Lidstone. AP. via Jodie Gaydon


CONCORD, NH (AP) — A former monk in New Hampshire whose cabin in the woods burned down on the property nearly three decades after he was ordered to leave has been charged once again with trespassing Yes, a shed has been saved from fire. A temporary house made of a wood stove.

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    ‘River Dave’ doesn’t think he can go back to being a monk

There was a great deal of support for David Lidstone, 81 — known as “River Dave” — as he was arrested in July and charged with sitting on a property owned by a Vermont man. His cabin burned down during his stay in prison in August.

Lidstone was a local figure for sailors and kayakers on the Merrimack River before their property dispute attracted public attention, raising over $200,000 to help them start a new, law-abiding life. Donated.


Lidstone, who was grateful for the support, secured temporary housing because he knew where to live next and believed he could not return to being a monk.

But in late November he returned to the site in Canterbury, converting the wooden shed into a home. He was arrested on 14 December on a trespassing charge and faces a court hearing in March.

“Sometimes, you have to stand up for what’s right,” Lidstone told the Associated Press in a phone interview from the site on Tuesday. “I am 81 years old, I have nothing to lose.”


Lidstone is a woodcutter by trade, who harvested his firewood and grew his food in the woods along the river. The property, undeveloped and mostly used for timber harvest, has been owned by the same family since 1963. Lidstone claimed that years earlier, the current owner’s father had given his word – but nothing in writing – allowing him to stay there.

Over the summer, he was jailed on a sentence of civil contempt and told he would be released if he agreed to leave the cabin after a property dispute that went back in 2016. Leonard Giles, 86, a landowner from the South of Burlington, Vermont, wanted Lidstone out of the property.

“We’ll let the court address it,” Lisa Snow Wade, an attorney for Giles, said Tuesday of Lidstone’s arrest.

Back in the summer, the two sides agreed to arrange for Lidstone to collect their cats and chickens and the remaining property on the site. Judge Andrew Shulman said permission was also granted to appoint a surveyor to give Lidstone “peace of mind”. As of Tuesday, Lidstone said he was yet to see anyone come out to survey the land.

A fire destroyed the cabin on August 4, hours after Lidstone defended himself during a court hearing. He was released from prison the next day when the judge ruled that he would have little incentive to return to “this special place in the woods”, now that the cabin had burned down.

Canterbury Fire Chief Michael Gamache said the fire was caused by an accident. He said a representative for Giles began dismantling the cabin on August 4, with the solar panels disabled, which still had an electrical charge. He also used a power saw to cut into the metal supports that held the panels to the roof. Either action could have created a spark to make things smoke.

“What can I say, Dave is where he’s happiest,” Jody Gaydon, a kayaker who has known Lidstone for years, posted on Facebook. “He loves to be in nature and is what you would call a free bird. … We are still planning to build or buy a house in the spring.”