AMC is well-known for mapping and maintaining trails on such popular public lands as the White Mountain National Forest and Acadia National Park, but it also lends its expertise to conservation projects in local communities where it has a presence, enhancing and promoting community resources for outdoor recreation.
This summer, for instance, AMC crews have been working in the Berkshires, engaging young people in trail maintenance with a local Greenagers group and Americorps. AMC Berkshire Teen Trail Crew veteran Mike Leavitt is working with local youth through a joint AMC-Americorps program, involving 130 youth volunteers contributing more than 900 hours toward trail and conservation work. Projects include oxen logging at Lake Mansfield Town Forest. Black locust harvested in that effort is being used to replace bog bridging on the Phieffer Aboretum Trail in Great Barrington, Mass.
Leavitt has also worked with children and adults from the Kolburne School, a residential therapeutic center in New Marlborough, Mass., pulling invasive species at local land trust properties in Great Barrington and New Marlborough, according to AMC Regional Trails Manager Matt. J. Moore. Five Pittsfield-area youth have also been hired through a Boston Youth Environmental Network grant to perform much-needed maintenance on trails in Pittsfield State Forest.
AMC has worked with youth and other volunteers from seven Berkshires-based community organizations, with some 2,000 hours of labor contributed on local conservation projects over the past three years, says Moore.
In New Hampshire, AMC trail crews began working with the Berlin-area Jobs After Graduation (JAG) program in 2011, providing leadership and training on a local trail improvement project on Mount Jasper, a prominent peak in the city. With the help of grant funding provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and The Door Foundation, that work continued with JAG participants this summer, with new improvements to that trail and creation of an additional trail on the mountain. Given the program’s successes, AMC was involved this summer in expansion of the JAG program to the New Hampshire town of Woodsville.
Following up on the well-received 2006 Southern Piscataquis Regional Recreation Map and Guide, which AMC developed in conjunction with the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, AMC’s Cartographer Larry Garland is working with the regional promotional organization, The Maine Highlands, to produce a similar guide to outdoor recreational opportunities covering the whole of Piscataquis and Penobscot counties in Maine.
In 2010, AMC worked with community members and the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce to produce a map and guide to recreational opportunities in the Mahoosucs region and the Upper Androscoggin Valley. Local residents played a large role in contributing information about trails, local natural features, and hiking, paddling, and bicycling itineraries.
This summer, AMC has been working with staff and volunteers from the New England Mountain Bike Association and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to create a new system of mountain biking trails for use by the public on AMC’s land in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness region.
That project has included scouting potential routes and designing and laying out new trails suitable for knobby-tire travel, in an effort to broaden the recreational opportunities in the area. Financial support came from a $31,250 federal trails grant administered through the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, and AMC crews will be providing labor to create a mountain bike trail near Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins.
The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council applied for the grant, which is seen as providing seed money to encourage new recreational opportunities in the state and the region. “This will provide a new wilderness experience unique in the Northeast,” says Phil Savignano, senior tourism officer with the Maine Office of Tourism. Noting that Maine has been cited as a particularly bicycle-friendly state, he says, “this new addition will serve as another reason to explore the amazing natural resources of our Maine woods.”
Notes Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Hamer, “The proposed mountain bike trail will be the region’s first dedicated trail and a much-needed tourism asset.”