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Crews are prepared to take on diverse trail and other projects whenever and wherever they arise.

 

 

Maine Conservation Corps is a partner for all seasons


photo of young adult trail crew

Teamwork is a key concept with Maine Conservation Corps crews

 

STATE AND LOCAL TRAILS organizations understand first-hand what an ongoing challenge proper maintenance and repair of a trail system can be. It is a rare and fortunate trails organization that can retain a full staff of horticulturists, builders, designers, stone movers, and work crews large enough to contend with the constant demands of pathways that erode, become overgrown and— if the trail is doing its job— is continually being trampled underfoot.

In Maine, local trails clubs and land trusts have discovered that partnerships with the local Conservation Corps can be a simple, effective means for getting all that work done. The Corps provides a trained work crew of young people who are seeking outdoors experience and job skills working on public lands. Through its service model and community connections, the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) also provides its partners with a wide volunteer network and broad community support for its projects.

Consider the scope and scale of MCC’s work. Taken as a sample set, these three projects illustrate the unique ability of Conservation Corps to take on difficult technical projects, bring expertise and volunteers into community efforts, and work to increase access to protected lands.

Appalachian Trail

The historic Appalachian Trail runs 281 miles through Maine, and its upkeep requires general trail maintenance and extremely technical stone work projects. Within the state and throughout the northeastern seaboard, MCC’s field teams have developed a reputation as some of Maine’s most effective, technically astute trail builders.

photo of trail worker

MCC Trail crew using rock bars

 

On portions of the trail that wend through White Cap, Baldpate, and Gulf Hagas Mountains, MCC has partnered
with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club to rehabilitate and
preserve the trail. Corpsmembers did what they are best
known for, completing 585 stone steps— plus rehabilitating
existing trails and constructing ditches and drains. On
Baldpate Mountain, Corpsmembers built ramps of rock
and crushed rock— the sort of user-friendly, all-season
surface that is becoming increasingly popular and sought
after in trail systems nationwide.

In doing this work, the Maine Conservation Corps proved
to its partner that it can yield impressive results along a
broad survey area, but also do specialized projects like
stone work and basic rehabilitation projects

 

Mowry Beach Boardwalk

At times, Corps partnerships operate much closer to the grass roots level. Local collaborations are at times the most effective means of drawing locals into volunteer efforts. In Washington County (one of the poorest counties in Maine), local volunteers were recruited by Quoddy Regional Land Trust and teachers from a regional school to build a beach boardwalk along Mowry Beach. After the partners organized locals to build over 160 eight-foot boardwalk deck sections, Maine Conservation Corps was called in to work with the community to lead in the construction of a high quality accessible boardwalk linking the Lubec Consolidated School to the shoreline.

The boardwalk immediately became an asset both to the school and the community as a whole— a real local feature into which community members invested their own sweat, splinters, and feeling of local service.

Marshall Island

Marshall Island, managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), lies in Jericho Bay off the coast of Maine and is the largest uninhabited island on the nation’s eastern seaboard. MCHT conserves and stewards Maine’s coastal lands and islands for their renowned scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, ecological diversity and working landscapes, and has protected more than 125,000 acres in Maine, including more than 250 entire coastal islands. Clearly, in order to find a workable partnership, MCHT requires a field team that possesses deep, practical conservation knowledge. Maine Conservation Corps offered this expertise, as well as a sense that creating the trail system was a step toward future preservation of the land.

Establishing trails systems within a delicate ecosystem like Marshall Island is a balance between directing recreational use of the land in such a way that the integrity of the ecosystem is not impacted, but also recognizing that continued preservation and local interest in conservation requires better access to that very same land.

Working in partnership with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a three-year MCC project culminated on Marshall Island with the completion of a loop trail system on the island. During the 2008 season alone, the Field Team on Marshall Island cleared 11 miles of trail, built 56 feet of bog bridging, constructed one campsite, built 11 cairns, covered 552 feet of bog bridging with chicken wire for additional traction, and removed 28 bags of trash left on the island.

The construction of the trail and the complementary work taken on by the Conservation Corps flowed smoothly into the ongoing interests of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, created an environment with clearly defined recreational areas, and all the work was done with the dogged environmental sensitivity of a group of individuals taking part in conservation as a form of national service

A Corps ready for diverse partnerships

This sampling of Maine Conservation Corps’ partnerships does by no means exhaust the possibilities. The Corps works with local state parks, local towns and villages, and heritage land trusts. Thanks to a broad range of training programs— including their renowned Trail Training Academy— Maine Conservation Corps is prepared to take on diverse projects whenever and wherever they arise.

Learn more about Maine Conservation Corps at www.maine.gov/doc/parks/mcc/.

 

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