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Our archive of more in-depth news articles and reports (running back to the 1990’s) can be found here. You can also search for past articles using the search function in the left hand side column

Latest News

ET Share the Trail Shirts – Back by popular demand through August 20!

As part of a special time-limited fundraiser for the Eastern Trail, you can once again order t-shirts and pullover hoodies with a special “Share the Trail” design.

Shirts are available as custom t-shirts (including long sleeve tees) as well as sweatshirt pullover hoodies, and are available in all sizes.

Go here to Order a shirt to support the Eastern Trail!

This offer is available only through August 20. Proceeds will benefit the Eastern Trail Alliance. Orders will start shipping August 28th.

Carole Brush on the Eastern Trail
Latest News

Managing Maine’s Popular Trails: New Challenges

[Ed. Note. One of the three women this article features is our own Carole Brush, the Executive Director of the Eastern Trail Management District. Carole’s story appears last in the article]

Maine Women Magazine July 2020 |  By R. Cook

Kristine Keeney, Carrie Kinne, and Carole Brush are three Maine women who find themselves in an unexpected position that presents great opportunity and enormous challenges, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three women manage three of Maine’s most popular trail networks from northern Maine to York County. The trails are being used by record numbers of people who crave outdoor recreation as an escape from the daily stress and anxiety generated by the coronavirus. But those record numbers also present difficult challenges to ensure everyone’s safety in the new normal of social distancing.

Kristine never thought she would ever see a situation like the one that has unfolded across the state. She serves as the New England coordinator of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. The 32-year-old lives in Greenwood near Bethel in the Western Maine mountains and is looking forward to marrying her fiancé, Jake. She originally hails from the New Haven, Connecticut, area, but Maine has always held a special place in her heart.

“I started coming to Maine in 2008 or so. It was actually for skiing in a ski club at Sunday River,” Kristine recalls. When she attended graduate school in 2013, she was living in Portland and commuting to Boston via the Downeaster. Her goal was to become the city’s bicycle coordinator.

She worked in that role for a few years and increased the bicycle network by creating more bicycle parking at a time when bicyclists wanted to have more freedom to share the road with motor vehicle traffic. “I was always into bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.” She later accepted a planner position in Vermont for three towns near the Sugarbush Ski Resort area. She worked on a lot of trail projects in the Green Mountain State, mapped out trails for the whole region, and created user-friendly map kiosks. In July 2018, Kristine moved back to Maine when her present job was available.

She now oversees a trail network that extends from Calais to Rhode Island as part of a system that extends from Maine all the way to Key West, Florida. Maine has 340 miles, and the New Hampshire Seacoast has 17 miles, followed by another 145 miles in Massachusetts and 50 miles in Rhode Island.

In her role, Kristine works with smaller Maine trail groups like the Kennebec Estuary in Bath and the Eastern Trail Alliance in Saco that have direct management over their specific trail systems. Kristine helps them work with regional planners, local governments, and utility companies to design trails, maintain existing trail standards, and add new trails. Kristine spends a great deal of time advocating for trail funding in Augusta and keeps her trail part ners updated on important rule changes such as the COVID-19 guidelines issued by Gov. Janet Mills and
the Maine Centers for Disease Control.

Kristine is an avid biker herself. “I fell in love with it because of the flexibility and convenience, as well as the health benefits.” Biking can also help people enjoy a physical, outdoor activity while maintaining proper social distancing from others. “Biking is a great option to distance yourself from other people as well as having a great outlet for physical and mental health.”

She sees this new attention paid to biking as one of the strange benefits wrought by the current pandemic. After years of advocating for increased funding for trail networks throughout Maine and New England and spreading awareness about the health and environmental benefits of increased bicycle transportation, Kristine is seeing more people gravitate toward these causes. For example, trail use has tripled on Portland’s popular Back Cove Trail from March 2019 to March 2020, from 325 users per day to more than 1,000 daily users because of COVID-19, and that number will more than likely continue to climb as summer approaches.

As this trend unfolded, Kristine and other trail network managers were scrambling to educate trail users about the importance of social distancing. They want people to be mindful of the parking lots, for instance. If the lots are full, come back another day to use the trail, or pick a day when the weather is not as perfect, when fewer people will venture out.

“It’s a type of moving target when it comes to best practices,” Kristine said.

Maine trails are getting overwhelmed because, Kristine explains, there are more people from other communities who are traveling to different cities and towns to access those trails. Some communities have closed trail parking lots to traffic to limit access to hikers and bicyclists. When the state closed beaches and state coastal parks, that put more pressure on the existing trail network.

“It’s a situation that honestly none of us thought we would find ourselves in,” she said.

For Carrie Kinne, the executive director of the Kennebec Estuary, she and her volunteers already have their hands full striking the right balance between increased trail use and public health concerns. The Yarmouth resident oversees 30 miles of trails that include 12 preserves and 28 easements, including the latest one in Richmond.

Her trail network extends from Richmond down to West Bath and Dresden down to Georgetown. She said her group just celebrated its 30th anniversary. They have come a long way from the days when its founders were sitting around kitchen tables and first discussed protecting vast tracts of land to protect natural habitat and allow public enjoyment.

Carrie completely understands why so many people who may have never enjoyed the Kennebec Estuary’s trails are using them now. “There are things you think of when you think of Maine, like nature, the environment, and the landscape. If you are from Maine, you may take it for granted.”

Carrie is hopeful the trail scout program they started when COVID-19 really took off in Maine will pay dividends. The program allows people to share their observation about the trails. “It’s getting a lot of traction.” Trail scouts also report the activity they are seeing on the trail, as well as trail conditions, to serve as the estuary organization’s eyes. As a result, more people in the community feel vested and engaged in the Kennebec Estuary’s work.

Carrie said the estuary’s corps of volunteers will make sure the trails are nice and wide to accommodate the growing number of users they will see this summer. “There are going to be
busy times, but ultimately you try to get the message out there as best you can,” Carrie said. “There should be ample space for everybody out there.”

Carrie has also been vested in Maine’s environment and its position as a leader in preserving public lands. She is originally from Farmingdale and spent a great deal of her career in the healthcare industry before she joined the Kennebec Estuary. “Out of all the non-profit work that I’ve done, this is incredibly rewarding.”

Carrie has been married to Jack for 20 years and the couple have four stepchildren and seven grandchildren, all under age nine. The kids love exploring the trails as much as Carrie does.

Meanwhile, the situation in southern Maine could be more complex for Carole Brush. As the executive director of the Eastern Trail Management District in Saco since 2007, Carole has already seen trails like Scarborough Marsh get overwhelmed with users to the point where social distancing was impossible. Carole said a survey showed the number of Scarborough Marsh trail users increased from 4,000 in April 2019 to 12,000 this April. In May 2019, they saw 7,000 people use the same trail compared to a projected 21,000 people this May.

“Maybe the big benefit of all this is that people are getting out more and exercising more and are really taking advantage of what we have,” Carole believes. “The use of the trail has tripled from what it was a year ago.” In some ways, it’s a nice problem to have for trail advocates who are always looking for ways to extoll the trail network’s benefits. But like her colleagues Kristine and Carrie, Carole could never have foreseen a situation like this unfolding in 2020.

She has been with the Eastern Trail Management District (EMTD) since 2007. She wanted to live in Maine to be close to her family and become an Audubon Society registered guide for the Scarborough Marsh. Since her earliest years growing up in New Jersey, Carole has had a love affair with nature.

“From the time I was a child, going out to nature was always my go-to place,” she said. “Maybe the big benefit of all this is that people are getting out more and exercising more and are really taking advantage of what we have.” Carole studied land conservation when she attended Ramapo College in New Jersey and ended up splitting her time between Boulder, Colorado, and New York State for the next 10 years. “It was a pretty tough commute, but it was worth it.”

In New York, Carole led hikes and taught fitness classes at the Mohawk Preserve and the Mohawk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley region. Carole has five grandchildren and has been single for quite a while. “My work is a big part of my passion, to be out there on the trails and keep conserving land for trails.”

Carole said her volunteers will continue to post signage and utilize social media to spread the word about the importance of social distancing so everyone can enjoy the trails. They will also have trail ambassadors to guide people to stay six feet apart. More importantly, the public’s willingness to comply with the new normal will ensure the trails remain open.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic dominates their attention, Carole said the ETMD is still working on three projects to expand and improve the existing trail network. One involves creating a 1.6-mile link between South Portland and Scarborough. The other two projects involve a three-mile stretch to connect Thornton Academy in Saco to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford and an 18-mile stretch from Kennebunk near Alewives Road south all the way to South Berwick. The work to maintain and expand existing trail networks and to educate the public about how best they can enjoy them now is an ongoing process.

“It takes a village or several to build a trail,” Carole observes. It may also take several villages to keep the trails safe and accessible this summer and beyond.

Latest News

Press Release – Eastern Trail Hires New Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Tad Redway, V.P. of the Eastern Trail Management District, (207) 985-4201 X108 and townplanner@arundelmaine.org
Bob Hamblen, President of the Eastern Trail Alliance, 207-294-2962 and bhamble1@maine.rr.com.

******************************************************************
Eastern Trail Hires New Executive Director

Biddeford – The Board of Directors of the Eastern Trail Alliance and the Eastern Trail Management District announced this week the hiring of Jon Kachmar as its next Executive Director.
Mr. Kachmar has extensive experience that includes working closely with government agencies, municipal officials, and business and nonprofit leaders across New England focused on the triple bottom line benefits—environmental, social and economic wins.

“My introduction to Jon came nearly twenty years ago when he led an effort that resulted in the “Saco Bay Management Plan,” a blueprint for the communities of Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Scarborough to aid in managing their coastal resources,” said Bob Hamblen, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “Jon is a consummate professional with a great employment background and a love of the outdoors. We’re excited to welcome his assistance with the continued development of the Eastern Trail.”

Mr. Kachmar is equally excited about his new role. “I have observed first-hand how parks and trails can offer significant benefits to mental and physical well-being, environmental stewardship, sustainable tourism, and cultural vibrancy of communities. The Eastern Trail, and its connection to the East Coast Greenway, is a shining example of the magic that can happen when people and nature are matched up to provide mutual benefits.”

The mission of the Eastern Trail Alliance is to build, maintain, and promote the use of the Eastern Trail, a recreation and transportation greenway from Casco Bay to the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine. We do this by inspiring individuals and private and public organizations to partner with us to support this incomparable resource.

The Eastern Trail Management District is a 501(c) non-profit organization comprised of member municipalities designed to oversee and coordinate the construction and management of the Eastern Trail.

Jon Kachmar
Latest News

Eastern Trail hires new executive director

BDN Maine Community News| Post Date: June 5, 2020

BIDDEFORD — The board of directors of the Eastern Trail Alliance and the Eastern Trail Management District announced this week the hiring of Jon Kachmar as its next executive director.

Kachmar has extensive experience that includes working closely with government agencies, municipal officials and business and nonprofit leaders across New England focused on the triple bottom line benefits — environmental, social and economic wins.

“My introduction to Jon came nearly 20 years ago when he led an effort that resulted in the “Saco Bay Management Plan,” a blueprint for the communities of Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Scarborough to aid in managing their coastal resources,” said Bob Hamblen, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “Jon is a consummate professional with a great employment background and a love of the outdoors. We’re excited to welcome his assistance with the continued development of the Eastern Trail.”

Kachmar is equally excited about his new role. “I have observed first-hand how parks and trails can offer significant benefits to mental and physical well-being, environmental stewardship, sustainable tourism, and cultural vibrancy of communities. The Eastern Trail, and its connection to the East Coast Greenway, is a shining example of the magic that can happen when people and nature are matched up to provide mutual benefits.”

 

Latest News

For cyclists, there may not be a better time to hit the road

[Eds. note: This article makes many references to the Eastern Tail Alliance’s Maine Lighthouse Ride and Bob Bowker, the founder of that ride and long time ETA Trustee and officer.]

Cycling advocates think a more bike-centric culture could take hold in Maine as a result of the pandemic.

By Deirdre Fleming, Staff Writer Maine Sunday Telegram. Published May 10, 2020

When Bob Bowker’s daughter, MacKenzie, asked for ideas on where to ride her bicycle in Maine this spring, he had an easy answer. Bowker, founder of the popular Maine Lighthouse Ride, suggested she try the southern portion of the 100-mile lighthouse route, where coastal views abound.

The expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and rocky beaches in the Kennebunks delighted MacKenzie Bowker, a jewelry maker and bike tour guide.

“I’m trying to ride local,” MacKenzie Bowker said. “I wanted something along the water. It’s nice to have those views. (My boyfriend and I) took a couple of different roads just because they went closer to the water. There was slightly less traffic than normal. So we were able to cruise around and not have to worry about out-of-staters.”

Bowker is not alone in seeking out new bicycle routes at this time. Bike paths have been busy and crowded during the pandemic, so many cyclists are looking for other options, bike advocates say.

“I see a lot of riders out riding by themselves now,” said Victor Langelo, ride director for the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club. “The group rides are not taking place, because it’s not socially responsible right now. But there are a lot of bikes on the roads.”

Resources are plentiful for cyclists wanting to explore new roadways…….

You can read the entire article online here

Maine Lighthouse Experience
Latest News

Eastern Trail Alliance Introduces the Maine Lighthouse Experience for 2020

 

Biddeford -In the midst of the uncertainty of COVID-19, the Eastern Trail Alliance will not hold its usual in-person event, the 2020 Maine Lighthouse Ride, on a single day. Instead, the event will take place with a ‘do it yourself’ flavor, challenging participants to choose their own path, and their own distance, their own experience. The MLR is the Eastern Trail’s largest operational fundraiser. This annual event helps keep the lights on and allows us to continue our mission to complete this glorious 65 mile trail.

The event has been renamed the Maine Lighthouse Experience and will take place the week of September 5-12, offering participants an opportunity to not only ride, but to walk or run a route of their choice in support of the Eastern Trail. The ETA will provide participants with some suggested routes for various lengths for those completing the event in Maine. A Go Pro Video of the various Maine Lighthouse Rides –25, 40, 62 and 100 miles will be available so you can either ride it at home, or ride it in person! All participants will be entered to win raffle prizes. Every rider, runner and walker will earn additional raffle entries based on their level of participation.

“Given the social distancing and stay at home orders, it has never been more evident how important the Eastern Trail truly is to our Maine community. Our 65 miles of glorious on and off road trails have offered a wonderful reprieve for these uncertain and stressful days. The Lighthouse Ride is the Eastern Trail’s largest operational fundraiser. This annual event helps keep the lights on and allows us to continue our mission to complete an off road 65-mile trail,” states Nancy Borg, Executive Director of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “Though we cannot be together for fellowship and celebration, we feel it is imperative to continue supporting our mission,” Borg concludes.

Plans are currently underway. Stay tuned for more information by visiting https://www.easterntrail.org/mle or following the Eastern Trail on Facebook or Instagram.

Latest News

A message from the ETA Executive Director and the ETMD Executive Director; Nancy Borg and Carole Brush

     Carole Brush

We hope this email finds you all well, spending time outdoors (6’ apart obviously) and reflective of this unusual time in all of our lives.

We want to share with you some exciting news from the Eastern Trail.

At the end of last year, we (Carole and Nancy) both decided to “downsize” our work life and “upsize” our personal lives leaving space to explore new ventures.

We reached out to the two respective boards (the Eastern Trail Alliance, and the Eastern Trail Management District) with the recommendation of consolidating the two Executive Director (ED) positions into one full-time position.

Since then, we have posted the position and have been receiving numerous, highly qualified and interested candidates!

We are definitely on board until the position is filled and the new ED has settled in. We both feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to connect with so many others who are passionate and committed to Maine and expanding its trail systems. Our love of the trail and its mission has us planning on sticking around as volunteers and / or consultants as needed.

We’ll check in with you all later on when the new ED has been announced to say thank you and goodbye.

In the meantime, stay well, stay active and stay tuned!!!!

Carole and Nancy

People on the Eastern Trail
Latest News

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

Latest News

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

Latest News

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