Notesfromthecoast

Fall 2023

In “Notes from the Coast,” we delve into a particular topic
area, share thoughts and questions we’re exploring at Maine
Coast Heritage Trust, and celebrate the good work you’re
making possible.

 

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Signatures Stookey 250x110 2022 03 22

Kate Stookey
MCHT President and CEO

THE GUIDING QUESTION

Where do trails belong? Right now, Maine Coast Heritage Trust stewards are working along the coast completing a wide range of tasks as they care for the land. This includes constructing and maintaining trails on our preserves. Trails are an important way for people to access and enjoy the outdoors.

But as anyone who has ever navigated a trail can tell you, they are not straight-forward, literally or figuratively. Environmental, social, and cultural factors go into our decisions about where and how to site and construct trails.

We’re always aiming to advance two aspects of our mission 1) ecological protection and 2) expanding people’s access to land and water.

Over the decades, we’ve generally routed trails to give people special experiences while maintaining large, intact areas of undisturbed land for wildlife habitat and avoiding sensitive places such as bird nesting areas.

Many of our preserves have some kind of trail system, and most of them are fairly narrow and rugged. Recent data, however, has us rethinking our approach.

We’re learning that any trail, no matter how discreet or infrequently used, can have a significant impact on surrounding wildlife. We also recognize that many of our trails aren’t accessible to many people. So what are we doing about it?

We are updating our criteria to determine which preserves can and should support more visitation and which can and should be managed primarily as wildlife habitat. We’re having exciting conversations about constructing wider, hardened, and more accessible trails in key locations, while limiting trails elsewhere to primarily support the well-being of plants and animals.

Our approach in any given place is necessarily complex. It’s not always easy to hold these two aspects of our mission in balance, but it is vitally important.

THE MOMENT OF INSPIRATION

We're excited to be working on a new accessible trail at Woodward Point Preserve in Brunswick, which will be open this fall. “A new trail and parking area will open this beautiful place to all visitors, including people who need a level surface to walk, use a wheelchair, or push a stroller,” says MCHT land steward Andrew Deci.

A COLLEAGUE I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET

C A L E B   J A C K S O N
Associate Director of Stewardship at MCHT

calebCaleb Jackson has been working for Maine Coast Heritage Trust as a land steward for eight years, but he’s been constructing hiking trails much longer than that.

After college, Caleb worked as a ridge runner for the Appalachian Mountain Club, educating hikers about Leave No Trace principles while maintaining trails and campsites on the Appalachian Trail. “I’d walk the same trail over and over again all through spring summer and fall, and I could see where our trail improvements were successful and where weather events necessitated more thoughtful interventions,” says Caleb. Later he coordinated AMC’s volunteer trail program, working with hundreds of people on dozens of trail projects a year.

At MCHT, Caleb builds and maintains trails on the preserves he cares for and consults with other MCHT land stewards about where and how to construct trails. “If you follow the flow of the landscape, the patterns of impact from water, soil accretion, and the veins of rock, a trail can present itself in a really beautiful way,” says Caleb.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Bird

About 25% of adults in the U.S. live with some kind of disability; about 12% have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs. These percentages increase significantly for older adults and, in 2030, it is expected that 31% of Maine’s population will be 60 and older.

Thanks to Maine’s land trusts, the public has access to over 2,500 miles of trail—approximately the distance from New York City to Miami and back again. MCHT manages about 100 miles of trail.

Human presence can be detected by wildlife on either side of a trail. This is called the “corridor of influence.” One New Hampshire report found that a trail’s corridor of influence is about 400 feet in each direction.

The cost to construct a universally accessible trail in Maine is about $40 per linear foot on average.

Photo of Woodward Point Preserve: MCHT photo
Photo of Kate: Katherine Emery
Photo of Caleb: Kate Cough