Media Archive

County to work with Maine Appalachian Trail Club

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 46, November 17, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT Piscataquis County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to work with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club in funding trail improvements.

Commissioner Tony Bartley said the county receives about $16,000 annually from the federal government in reimbursement for lost property taxes on the Appalachian Trail. He said he would like to see the county use some of those funds which now flow into the general fund to benefit the trail maintenance and possibly the construction of more lean-tos and campsites.

He compared it to the county's reimbursement to snowmobile clubs for trail maintenance costs.

"We should be turning that [federal reimbursement] back" to the MATC, agreed Commissioner Tom Lizotte. "The Appalachian Trail is an incredible asset in our county."

"We should be promoting our trail in the county," Bartley said, adding he'd like to see the MATC come back to the commissioners with a proposal for a project in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. The cost would be included in the 2005 unorganized territories budget.

Approximately 130 of the state's 236 Appalachian Trail miles are located in Piscataquis County. Every year, volunteers fan out across the state along the trail, identifying areas in need of erosion control measures and other improvements.

"These volunteers are going out in rugged, remote and isolated terrain," said Roger Merchant, a member of the MATC.

Merchant said that increased usage of the trails by day hikers and backpackers a result of an heightened interest nationwide in nature-based tourism is leading to erosion of the trails and degradation of the condition of lean-tos and camp sites. He said the club also is seeing the development of unauthorized camp sites that need to be addressed. He said he'd like to see the club work with the county on an ongoing basis on trail improvements.

"We appreciate your interest and support in exploring this," Merchant said.

Along with Merchant, Don Stack, president of the MATC, spoke to the county commissioners specifically outlining the club's history and presence in the state and county. Also representing the MATC were Bruce Grant, a member and Dover-Foxcroft resident, and the organization's sole paid employee. Holly Shannon, club coordinator.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.