KENDUSKEAG, Maine — Landowners in Maine who have graciously allowed public access to their properties for recreational uses — hiking, trail riding, hunting, fishing — got a thank you on Saturday in the form of volunteer labor that removed dumped trash and debris.
“We really appreciate the private landowners providing public access,” Maine Forest Service Ranger Kent Nelson said while standing on the side of Kenduskeag Road with volunteers behind him filling bag after bag with garbage.
Outside of Maine it’s very common for private lands to be posted, but in Maine there are trails that connect all corners of the state thanks to landowners who continue the tradition of providing public access.
“It’s unique here in Maine and we want to try and keep that,” Nelson said.
Behind him half a dozen local firefighters pulled tires, trash, animal bones, housing materials and debris out of the woods. The parcel is owned by the grandmother of Brock Bradford, who stopped by to help on Saturday and said, “she has always allowed people to use the land.”
Across the street from the cleanup site is where youngsters for decades have come to go sledding during the winter, he said, adding his family is filled with hunters and others who love the Maine woods.
“We’re extremely grateful and appreciative,” Bradford said. “Both to the state for coordinating the cleanup and to the volunteers.”
In addition to thanking private landowners for allowing recreational use of their property, the other goals of the cleanups are to properly dispose of illegally discarded items and discourage further dumping on these sites.
Forest Ranger Jerry Parsons, who works in and around Bangor, put up a sign at the end of the small gravel pull-off asking people to report illegal dumping.
Gov. Paul LePage issued a proclamation declaring Saturday Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day and thanked both large and small landowners for allowing the public access to their lands for recreational use.
The Maine Forest Service supplied trucks and trash bags to haul the discarded materials away to nearby transfer stations, many of which waived disposal fees, Nelson said.
Forest rangers and members of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine began a while back to document sites where they found trash in the woods and so far have “a database of 120 dump sites, for lack of a better word,” Nelson said.
More than 40 of those identified sites were cleaned on Saturday, he said, adding that “we’re going to keep going for the rest of the week” to cleanup as many sites as possible before the snow flies.
Lt. Brandon Louk of the Kenduskeag Fire Department spoke for his fellow firefighters who gave their time on Saturday to give back to their community.
“We just wanted to come out and clean up the town a little bit,” he said. “I’m glad we’re out helping out.”