In 2008, the DSF was awarded grant funds through the Maine Forest Service’s Project Canopy Program to plan and implement a trail system and interpretive signage for the Downeast Salmon Federations 424-acre “Salmon Safe” Community Forest (see Intervale Vol. 3 Issue 1 under our Newsletter link) adjacent to the Eastern Little River, a major tributary to the Pleasant River, in Columbia. The DSF received $10,000 from the Maine Forest Service which has been matched by members and donors for a total project budget of $20,000. The funds are being used for trail design, layout, and mapping, as well as development of public parking areas and river access. Additionally, a portion of the funds will be used for research, development and installation of interpretive signage throughout the trail system.
In the fall of 2008, University of Maine at Machias (UMM) recreation management program students, under the direction of Assistant Professors Richard Scribner and Andrea Ednie, assisted the DSF with preliminary trail scouting and layout. In the spring of 2009, Assistant Professor Ednie’s Recreation Program Planning students organized the first trail day during which construction began on the first of three planned trails. The students concluded the event with an introduction to geocaching. In early May, the first trail was completed and work began on the second.
During the spring 2009, UMM student intern Lisa Ralph assisted DSF Educator Jacob van de Sande with several outreach projects. Ralph, an environmental education student (class of 2009) focusing on non-traditional education, has been working with DSF to develop an interpretive panel on stream ecology to be located on the Eastern Little River access trail. The panel will feature an original painting by Bangor-area biologist and artist Mark McCollough.
The primary goal of the “Salmon Safe” Community Forest Project is to encourage community members and visitors alike off to venture off the road and into the woods for healthful recreation and to learn about the forest, its ecology, and how it can be sustainably managed to provide wood products, and quality fish and wildlife habitat. The DSF will use these trails and river access for field trips with school groups and the EdGE after-school program offered by the Maine Sea Coast Mission. We also recommend them as a destination for tourists visiting the area, and encourage our community members to take advantage of this outdoor recreation opportunity while learning about local ecology and sustainable forestry practices.
Completion of the trail system and installation of the interpretive stream ecology panel are planned for the summer of 2009. Stay tuned for news and events to celebrate completion of this exciting project.