Latest News

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

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

Latest News

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

Latest News

The Eastern Trail and Ticks – How to Stay Safe

Welcome to spring on the Eastern Trail – the birds are singing, peepers are peeping and ticks are coming out of hiding.

Fortunately the trail is wide enough to accommodate trail users while keeping 6′ apart.  You can limit exposure to ticks by maintaining a similar distance from long grasses, undergrowth, marshes and wooded shrubs.

Please stay on the trail while maintaining this safe distance to minimize your chances. Wear light-colored clothing that is tucked in to further reduce exposure, And remember to check yourself AND your pet carefully after you get back home.

Here’s a pamphlet we have created with more information on how to be safe regarding ticks.

Latest News

East Coast Greenway’s WeekAYear video: Maine to Florida ride over 9 years

Take a look at this excellent “Week-A-Year” video put together and shared by Dave Read of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

Nine years ago, riders started at the Canadian border in Calais, Maine and began a ride south along the 3000-mile East Coast Greenway. They rode for a week each year. For example, they biked the first year (2011) from Calais to Portland.

On Friday, November 15, 2019 a group of 40 cyclists plus support staff reached Key West, Florida, to wrap the final leg of the East Coast Greenway Alliance’s Week-A-Year (WAY) Tour.

In 2012 they traveled along the Eastern Trail,  and the brief ET segment (starting at 2:02 on the video) includes a nice aerial-drone-shot along the Scarborough Marsh.

The video is a collage of trip videos and photographs that includes an engaging narration about the yearly rides and the Greenway.

Dave Read lives in Massachusetts, is currently a member of the Greenway Council, and chaired the Board of Trustees of the East Coast Greenway Alliance from 2011 through 2015. He is also the Vice President of Ambulatory Care Operations and Medical Oncology at DanaFarber Cancer Institute.

Latest News

Eastern Trail May Events Cancelled due to Corona Virus Caution

In response to the Corona-Virus restrictions communicated by Maine’s Governor Janet Mills, the Eastern Trail has made the difficult decision to cancel our scheduled May events.

Please make note of the following cancellations:

  • Saturday, May 2, 2020 – 3rd Annual Gala, Camp Ketcha Scarborough
  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020 – Eastern Trail Annual Meeting (postponed until later date)
  • Saturday, May 16, 2020 – 4th Annual John R Andrews 5K

Also, the Maine Lighthouse Ride has been reconfigured as the Maine Lighthouse Experience, which will run from September 5-12

For those who have registered for the JRA 5K – we will contact you individually to discuss refunds.

Those who have committed as either sponsors or donors for the Annual Gala, JRA 5K or the Annual Meeting, we will contact you on an individual basis, to discuss refunds.

While we are extremely disappointed to miss the opportunity to spend time with our valuable members, our community members and sponsors, we are committed to being part of this important direction from our governor and do our part as Social Distancing becomes the norm.

Please monitor this web site and our FaceBook page for other updates, including trail events beyond May.

We hope to see you on the trail getting some fresh air, enjoying some exercise and taking some well-deserved time in nature.

Warm Regards,

The Eastern Trail Board and Staff

Latest News

Maine Voices: Vision for regional greenway development includes current, future train passage

[Eds. note: This article includes information about legislation currently being considered, LD 2124 – “An Act To Create the Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council Process,” which would ensure that unused Maine rail corridors don’t stay stagnant indefinitely. Sue Ellen Bordwell of Yarmouth is president of the Casco Bay Trail Alliance. Dick Woodbury, also of Yarmouth, served 10 years in the Maine Legislature and is on the board of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

A related article is here.  An advocacy page on LD 2124 can be found here]

By SUE ELLEN BORDWELL AND DICK WOODBURY,  published March 12, 2020

We are tangibly close to having a continuous off-road greenway that connects the communities from Kennebunk to Portland, Westbrook, Lewiston-Auburn, Brunswick and Augusta. Situated along many of the major commuting corridors in southern Maine, this regional trail network would be among the most frequently used in America, promoting health and fitness, reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, tourism, economic development and enhanced community life.

Critical to achieving this vision is the repurposing of four state-owned rail corridors in our region, much like the repurposing of a rail corridor purchased by the state of New Hampshire for their greenway path from Portsmouth to the Massachusetts border. In Maine, three of these corridors are already state-owned, unused by trains and largely redundant with separate and active rail corridors that can be cost-effectively maintained for current and future train passage.

• Project 1, the Casco Bay Trail, uses the former St. Lawrence & Atlantic corridor from Portland to Yarmouth. Importantly, an active rail line used by the Amtrak Downeaster already provides train passage from Portland through Yarmouth on its way to Freeport and Brunswick. The St. Lawrence & Atlantic is a totally separate corridor on essentially the same route. This is a case where no rail-versus-trail controversy seems necessary. We can have both: a well-maintained track for active rail use and one of the most popular greenway trails imaginable.

To the south, the Casco Bay Trail would connect to the Portland Trails network, including Back Cove, the Eastern Promenade trail and 22 off-road miles of the Eastern Trail from South Portland to Kennebunk. To the north, it would connect to the Beth Condon Pathway, running from Yarmouth to the Freeport YMCA, and the West Side Trail, running from western Yarmouth to the far end of Cousins Island. L.L. Bean and the town of Freeport are also collaborating on a trail extension from the YMCA to downtown.

Constructing the Casco Bay Trail in no way inhibits passenger train service from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn. The Amtrak Downeaster could easily fork from its existing corridor with one track going to Freeport-Brunswick and the other to Lewiston-Auburn. Indeed, an exciting vision is taking shape with Amtrak stops at turnpike Exit 53 in West Falmouth and Pineland and turnpike Exit 72 in Auburn and downtown Lewiston-Auburn. The Casco Bay Trail is complementary with this vision.

• Project 2, the Merrymeeting Trail, repurposes an unused rail corridor from Brunswick and Topsham to Gardiner. It connects the Kennebec River Rail Trail to the north with the Androscoggin River Bicycle and Pedestrian path to the south, advancing a 40-mile “Capital to Coast” trail system. For commuting purposes, it serves residential communities surrounding Augusta, Brunswick, Topsham and eventually Bath. It would be a spectacular greenway through villages, forests and fields and along rivers.

Read the entire article online here.

 

Latest News

Maine rail, trail advocates can’t get on the same track

[Eds. note: This article addresses issues on segments of the East Coast Greenway in Maine, of which the Eastern Trail is a major segment.  It also addresses legislation currently being considered, LD 2124 – “An Act To Create the Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council Process.”  This bill’s passage will set up a process at the Maine Department of Transportation to allow it to consider other uses for rail corridors, such as trails, instead of them continuing to sit idle. It’s passage hopefully will help trails in Maine come to fruition in the future.]

A related article is here.  An advocacy page on LD 2124 can be found here]

By Douglas Rooks,  published March 11, 2020

Since its founding nearly 30 years ago, the East Coast Greenway has sought to create a 3,000-mile bicycle-pedestrian pathway from Key West, Florida, to Calais – a vision fully equal to the Appalachian Trail, whose terminus at Mount Katahdin has become the summit of hiking achievement for generations of outdoors enthusiasts.

Unlike the AT, the Greenway is designed to connect urban population centers, and to become as viable for commuting as shuttles, buses and commuter rails; one of its most successful segments is in the “Research Triangle” around Raleigh, North Carolina, where thousands of cyclists use it daily.

Portland became a focus early on, and was a launching point for an exploratory tour in 1994; a decade later, seven cyclists started from Calais and traveled the entire route in 55 days. Maine, with its relatively wide-open spaces, seems an easy sell for construction of a recreational pathway heavily used by tourists.

But that hasn’t been the case.

The Eastern Trail – which runs 29 miles from Kennebunk to South Portland and includes a highly visible bridge over the Maine Turnpike – is a designated Greenway segment. It follows an active underground natural gas pipeline built on an old railroad right of way, with full support from the pipeline owners.

In other areas, however, trail advocates have run into strong, and sometimes unstinting resistance from passenger rail enthusiasts, who insist that every rail and tie must remain in place – even on abandoned, often state-owned lines.

The crown jewel of potential trail commuter routes in greater Portland is the old St. Lawrence & Atlantic line that runs from downtown Portland across Back Cove, behind the B&M Baked Beans plant and then north to Yarmouth for nine miles. It parallels the Maine Central tracks that host the Amtrak Downeaster, and ended freight service in 2013. Yet suggestions for converting it to trail use remain embryonic.

The forces contending over the future of old rail lines were on full display March 5, during a hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on LD 2124, a governor’s bill to create a Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council.

Legislative impasse

The late-filed bill was the Department of Transportation’s attempt to resolve deadlocks over two bills concerning other Greenway segments: the Merrymeeting Trail, 25 miles from Topsham to Gardiner (LD 1141), and an extension of the Downeast Sunrise Trail, an 86-mile segment in Hancock and Washington counties, by another 15 miles, from Ayers Junction to the Greenway terminus in Calais.

Sponsors of those bills, Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, and Sen. Marianne Moore, R-Calais, urged adoption of the advisory council as a way of allowing the committee, as Warren put it, “to get out of the middle of the annual railroad/trail arguments.” She called it “the most comprehensive, fair and thorough process” she’s seen.

Moore talked about the positive impact of the Downeast Sunrise Trail – up to $1 million annually – for communities from Ellsworth to Machias that have few other economic opportunities. She said removing rails and rebuilding the railbed, fixing washouts and bridge failures, makes the return of rail service more likely; existing ties and rails would have to be replaced anyway.

Advocates emphasize that trails on state “railbanked” corridors are interim uses, and that – should trains prove feasible – must be relocated. Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, pointed to Denton, Texas, where such a trail was moved when a new freight line was opened.

Read the entire article online (Portland Phoenix) here.

 

Latest News

Total Maine with Steve Minich – ET content in Episode 8

[Eds. note: The Eastern Trail is featured in this local television spot starting at approx. 3:34 and ending about 6:10. The show covers both the Gap Tracks UNE wildlife study on the Eastern Trail, as well as the Close the Gap campaign. You can view the spot here.]

On this episode of “Total Maine with Steve Minich,” as work to complete another section of the Eastern Trail bike path gets underway, it’s given a University of New England professor the chance to study the local wildlife in an interesting way.

You can access the video here.

The program originally aired on February 22, 2020.

Gap Tracks game cam image
Latest News

Study tracks Maine abundant wildlife along popular trail

Mirage News, February 5, 2020

Noah Perlut, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, recently met up with WMTW anchor Steve Minich in Scarborough to discuss the GapTracks project.

Perlut and students in his Terrestrial Wildlife class are studying the impact that connecting two sections of the Eastern Trail in Scarborough will have on wildlife in the area.

A 1.6-mile gap currently exists on the Eastern Trail, interrupting off-road travel. Work is expected to start soon to close the gap, including the construction of two bridges. The finished project will provide 16 continuous off-road miles reaching from Bug Light in South Portland to Downtown Saco.

Images and videos captured on eight motion-controlled cameras are providing insight into the secret lives of wildlife in the area.

“We know that there are animals here, but people don’t necessarily know how many species are here or how abundant the wildlife is in our backyard,” Perlut told WMTW.

Two of the cameras are set up where the trail currently exists and six are placed where the extension will be built. Students are constantly analyzing data collected from the cameras.

“An army of students go through these pictures day and night looking for what’s there and documenting what’s there so that we can understand the many years of data,” Perlut explained.

That data collected will be compared to data collected after the construction project is complete in order to document changes over time. The study is focused on the types of animals in the gap area, the time of year and day they are present, and the amount and type of use by humans.

The report will air again on a future episode of “Total Maine,” a program that airs on WMTW’s sister network CW on Saturday evenings.

You can view the WMTW coverage here (video).

Visit the GapTracks Facebook page here.