Monthly: April 2020

People on the Eastern Trail
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As the weather warms, land trusts struggle with crowds

Land trusts in southern Maine are determined to keep trails open, but managing crowds during the pandemic has been a struggle.

BY DEIRDRE FLEMING | STAFF WRITER

SCARBOROUGH — On a Sunday with temperatures nearing 60 degrees, runners, bikers and walkers on the popular Scarborough Marsh trail were out early in the morning last weekend. And they just kept coming.

By 10:30 a.m. birders Marion Sprague and Ian Doherty left their productive birding spot after two hours because of clusters of walkers who walked side by side, making it difficult to leave a 6-foot-wide berth when passing, as health and state officials have recommended people do in public to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

By 11:15 a.m., when Hannah Temple arrived at the trail to cap off her hour-long walk with her Labrador retriever – most of which she took through other “secret woods trails” and empty sidewalks to avoid crowds – the Scarborough Marsh trail was full at the northern entrance. The rail trail in places is as wide as 10 to 12 feet. But last Sunday morning, groups of cyclists, parents with strollers, and dog walkers frequently moved along the trail two to three abreast.

“I’m not going there. That’s way too many people,” said Temple, a nurse at The Cedars in Portland, speaking through her red-calico mask. “And nobody has masks on. If I had more masks, I’d hand them out.”

The Scarborough Marsh trail is part of the Eastern Trail, which allows for 22 miles of off-road hiking from Bug Light in South Portland to Kennebunk. Carole Brush, the executive director of the Eastern Trail Management District, said use along the Eastern Trail has been at least double or triple what it normally is at this time of year.

Read the entire article online here.

Go here for More Resources to Help with Safe Use of the Eastern Trail During the Covid-19 Virus

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SHARING THE TRAIL – Important Now More than Ever!

[Eds. note: We are passing along this excellent content from the League of American Bicyclists about trail sharing etiquette, so important now as we follow recommended safety provisions while recreating on the trail, especially social distancing.]

Since the path can be congested it’s important to follow the same rules as everyone else in order to have a safe and enjoyable time.

•    Be courteous
•    Know the rules of the trail you are using
•    Give a clear signal when passing
•    Be cautious and yield to crossing traffic
•    Always be predictable by riding in a straight line
•    If you are riding while it is dark, be sure to use lights
•    Only use half the width of the trail
•    Keep it clean

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Play it safe when enjoying the outdoors

SCARBOROUGH LEADER, Posted April 11

There are three rules to follow when going for a hike during the current pandemic.

By RICH BARD, SCARBOROUGH LAND TRUST AND CAROLE BRUSH, EASTERN TRAIL MANAGEMENT DISTRICT

Scarborough is incredibly fortunate to have an abundance of trails that remain open to the public for exercise during the COVID-19 crisis. Scarborough Land Trust and the Eastern Trail Management District, two organizations responsible for many of these trails, are pleased to play a role in helping people stay active and connected with the natural world at this uniquely challenging time. Our highest priority is public safety and, just as we are all called to do our duty to flatten the curve, we are asking everyone using our trails to do their part to avoid further closures.

Recommendations from state government and a statewide coalition of conservation organizations for enjoying the outdoors safely boils down to three points.

• Find the Right Time and Place — If the parking lot at your trail of choice is full, find another place close to home or come another time. Remember that early or late in the day, and on days with less than ideal weather conditions are when you are more likely to find space on the trails.

• Be Prepared Before Heading Out — If you don’t have everything you need to hike comfortably and safely, consider skipping your hike. Most importantly, this means don’t hike beyond your capabilities, risking a call to first responders.

• Heed all COVID-19 Health Warnings — These include posted signs at trailheads regarding physical spacing and also updated government guidance that may affect trail use.

If everyone reading this message follows all of these recommendations, we stand a good chance of keeping our natural areas open for public use throughout the crisis. We understand fully that for many people time spent in nature is crucial — after all, conservation groups like ours have been crowing about this for years and years. For the mutual benefit of everyone using our trails to find exercise, mental clarity, peace, and a connection with the earth, please do your part to keep these areas open.

Read the entire article online here.

Go here for More Resources to Help with Safe Use of the Eastern Trail During the Covid-19 Virus

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Three Steps for Mainers to Follow Before Heading Outdoors

[Eds. note: We are glad people are still using  the Eastern Trail, but it is important that we all follow recommended safety provisions as we recreate outdoors, especially social distancing. This Press Release provides good information on how you can go outside and still be safe.  The press release can be found here.]

For Immediate Release
April 2, 2020

Media Contacts
Warren Whitney, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, wwhitney@mcht.org
Jeremy Cluchey, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, jeremy.cluchey@tnc.org
Jim Britt, DACF, jim.britt@maine.gov

Three Steps for Mainers to Follow Before Heading Outdoors

AUGUSTA, Maine – The current “Stay Healthy at Home” mandate identifies “engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking” as essential personal activities, provided they are conducted in accordance with all public health restrictions and guidance. Maine’s conservation community, natural resource agencies, and outdoor brands want everyone to have the opportunity to get outside during this challenging time.

Most of our publicly accessible conservation lands are available for healthy outdoor recreation. Still, we all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent unnecessary stress on our Maine Warden Service, Forest Rangers, and first responders.

While some popular conservation lands have closed recently due to overuse and crowding, the vast majority remains open to the public. As spring weather arrives in Maine, it is critical that all individuals and families who head outdoors follow three simple steps:

  • Find the Right Time and Place
  • Be Prepared Before Heading Out
  • Heed All COVID-19 Health Warnings

The following checklists will help us all enjoy Maine’s outdoors in ways that are safe and responsible during this difficult time. Before you hit the trail, cast a line, or launch a canoe, please be sure to:

 Find the Right Time and Place

  • Know What’s Close to Home: Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Areaor a less-trafficked state parkpublic land, or local land trust (Maine Trail Finder is a great resource!)
  • Check before you go: Visit websites to see the latest information on closures or conditions. Please respect all property closures.
  • Have a plan B: If the parking lot is full, the destination is too crowded. If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list!
  • Avoid peak times: Get out earlier or later in the day.
  • Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood!: Spring in Maine means there is a lot to see and explore right in our own yards.

Be Prepared Before Heading Out

  • Expect limited services: Facilities like public restrooms are likely closed, so plan accordingly.
  • Pack snacks and water: Do what you can to avoid having to make stops along the way.
  • Dress for success: It is spring in Maine, so trails are likely to be wet, muddy, slippery, or icy; bring appropriate gear to match the conditions. Local outdoor brands are open for online sales and are available to give advice on appropriate gear and equipment.
  • Don’t take risks: Stick to easier terrain to avoid injuries, which add stress on first responders and medical resources.
  • Watch out for ticks: Wear light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and apply EPA-approved bug repellent.

Heed All COVID-19 Health Warnings

  • Practice social distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your household. If necessary, step aside when passing other people on the trail. And remember that groups of 10 or more are prohibited.
  • Don’t linger: Shorten your stay when visiting natural stopping points such as waterfalls, summits, and viewpoints so everyone can enjoy them while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Don’t touch: Avoid touching signs, kiosks, buildings, and benches to minimize the potent spread of the virus.
  • If you’re sick, stay home: It puts others at risk when you leave home while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have recently been exposed to the virus.

If we all follow these guidelines and put public health first, we can enjoy Maine’s natural resources in safe and responsible ways as we work through this difficult time together.

###

Appalachian Mountain Club
Center for Community GIS
Forest Society of Maine
Maine Audubon
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Maine Land Trust Network
Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation
Maine Outdoor Brands
Maine Trails Coalition
The Nature Conservancy in Maine

Go here for More Resources to Help with Safe Use of the Eastern Trail During the Covid-19 Virus

Keep 6 feet apart on the trail
Latest News

Help Us Keep the Trail Open – Keep a Safe Distance

KEEP IT SAFE; KEEP IT HEALTHY

We are pleased so many people are enjoying the Eastern Trail for mental and physical therapy; however, sad to say, there can be too many people using it at the same time in certain areas!

If you find the parking lots are full, please do not park on the roads or in the neighborhoods. Try to visit the trail at a different, less crowded time. Our neighbors are very important to us, as are the local municipalities.

We do not want towns to close the trail, as they have done with some parks and beaches.

With your help and careful social distancing, we can keep the trail open for all to use safely in these trying times.

Thank for your support!

Go here for More Resources to Help with Safe Use of the Eastern Trail During the Covid-19 Virus