Expanding Public Access to the Outdoors
Maine’s network of more than 80 land trusts has significantly increased public access to the outdoors for activities including hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, ATV riding, birdwatching, boating, and sightseeing.
Enhancing Public Lands
These recreational amenities available on land trust conserved lands are part of a larger network of conservation lands in Maine, which includes State Parks and Public Lands, State Wildlife Management Areas, Acadia National Park, the Appalachian Trail and other federally-protected properties, and municipal parks and other green spaces.
A great example of this can be found in southern York County, where Mount Agamenticus forms the centerpiece of a 13,500-acre recreation and conservation area where land trust preserves, municipal parks, state wildlife management areas, and private conserved lands seamlessly connect to the benefit of resident flora, fauna, and outdoor enthusiasts. The region boasts 40 miles of trails used by an estimated 30,000 visitors each year for snowmobiling, mountain biking, ATV riding, and hiking. These lands are overseen by a steering committee with representatives from the Towns of York and South Berwick, York Water District, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Great Works Regional Land Trust, York Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy.
With so many recreational amenities to offer, it is not surprising that land trusts throughout Maine are busy partnering in different ways with innkeepers, guides, outfitters, local chambers of commerce, and others focused on making Maine a more desirable place for visitors to explore.
Here are some examples from around the state:
Based on a survey completed in 2017, Maine’s land trust conserved lands offer the following outdoor recreational amenities:
- 1260 miles of hiking and walking trails
- 275 miles of mountain biking trails
- 210 beaches/swimming areas
- 203 boat launch sites
- 345 miles of ATV riding trails
- 570 miles of snowmobiling trails
- 2.34 million acres of land open for hunting
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) is supported annually by more than 80 local businesses, including water sport companies, restaurants, book stores, hotels and inns. Each year, BTLT works with many of these business members to co-sponsor community programs and events.
Boothbay Region Land Trust has reported over 67,000 annual visitors to its preserves – that’s a number greater than the entire population of Portland. Their preserve guide is the most requested brochure at the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce. It features 16 preserves covering 1,169 acres, and over 32 miles of hiking trails.
Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) partners with 40 Grand Lake Stream guides who bring clients to their Downeast Lakes Community Forest. DLLT also invites a dozen area lodges and inns to direct their guests to fish, hunt, hike, boat, and enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation there.
A 2016 study conducted by economist David Vail found that lodge guests, visitors, and activities within the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 75,000-acre Maine Woods property generated $2.18 million in spending in Piscataquis County in 2015.
Mahoosuc Land Trust plays a prominent part in supporting what the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce calls a “one-of-a-kind destination.” The chamber, local businesses, and fishing guides direct many visitors to the trust’s scenic mountain hikes, boat launch sites, and pristine swimming holes.