BROWNVILLE, Maine — Snowmobilers may continue to use Connecting Trail 110 from Brownville to Greenville this season thanks to conservationist philanthropist Roxanne Quimby.
Late last year, Quimby purchased 9,894 acres in Katahdin Iron Works Township that included a mile of the old Narrow Gauge Railroad bed that had been used as part of the popular snowmobile trail.
The Brownville Snowmobile Club believed the Bureau of Parks and Recreation had received permission from Quimby to use the mile of trail, but learned recently that was not the case, according to Terry Knowles, the club’s vice president and trail committee chairman. Knowles learned about the “miscommunication” earlier this month while talking with Mark Leathers of the James Sewall Co., Quimby’s land manager.
“That was a big issue, and it kind of surprised us,” Knowles said Monday. Within 24 hours of Knowles telling Leathers of the importance of that mile section, Leathers called him back and said the club had permission to use and groom the trail this season.
Leathers confirmed to the Bangor Daily News earlier this month that Quimby had given her permission to use the mile between Brownville and Katahdin Iron Works for the trail.
“It’s certainly our major trail through Brownville,” Knowles said. “We basically would have lost probably half of our trail system,” had Quimby not given permission. In addition to the loss of the through trail, the club’s annual state snowmobile grant would have been significantly reduced, he added.
Knowles said the club would ask to use the same mile next year as well as permission to make another trail through Elliotsville on land Quimby owns.
The use of the mile of Quimby’s property has opened other possibilities with other landowners, Knowles stated. The club most recently worked with Carrier Timberlands to develop an alternate trail to connect Brownville to Millinocket.
Considering Connecting Trail 110 is not part of the Interconnecting Snowmobile Trail system, the trail gets high use, according to Knowles. Plans are already in place for the Maine Highlands Sled Dog Club 30-mile race on Jan. 29. That event comes after a sled dog race in Milo on Jan. 8.
While assured the use of the property this season, Knowles said it’s always an unknown about the use in future years. He said club members plan to start negotiations with all of the large landowners in the spring to see whether a long-term solution can be reached.