The Bangor Trails Committee recently announced its aspiration to create a regional trail system by forming physical and organizational links among trails located in Bangor, Brewer, Holden, Hampden, Orono, Old Town, Hermon and Veazie.
The first meeting about the potential trail system is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in the Community Room of Machias Savings Bank at 581 Wilson Street in Brewer. Anyone interested in this community project is welcome to attend.
“I think there are multiple reasons this is really great for the community,” said Bangor Trail Committee member Alexia Corbett of Bangor Health and Community Services. “Promoting a healthy, active lifestyle is the biggest benefit, but it will also get people into different areas of the communities, branching out when they go on a bike ride or walk. … It will bring some attention to the region, because we do have so many great land trusts and trails that people don’t really know about.”
A regional trail map of the towns’ existing trails is one of the first projects the committee will propose, according to Bangor Land Trust President Lucy Quimby, also a member of the Bangor Trails Committee.
“A lot of people who move to this area and stay in this area stay because they love this lifestyle. People really count on being able to get out and bike or just experience the outdoors,” said Quimby. “And I think if we have a regional trail map, that will show people that’s the case. We may not have a mountain, and we may not have the ocean, but we have a lot of lively places to walk and bike.”
Such a map could also help the communities determine where new trails can be built to physically link existing trails.
Aside from physically building link trails, the committee is interested in forming nonphysical connections between trails by encouraging towns to collaborate in organizing outdoor events. For example, Bangor and Brewer are currently working together to plan a joint trails day.
The April 11 meeting agenda:
• Familiarize with existing maps: Maine Trail Finder, Healthy Maine Walks, Explore Maine by Bike and Penobscot Valley Community Greenprint.
• Identify potential, actual, on-the-ground links between community trails, and list the initial next steps to make those routes useable.
• See if the communities represented want to establish any formal links between and among themselves with regard to trails.
• Explore the interest in having trail events that involve more than one community.
If interested in attending, visit http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=c9tybkkab&oeidk=a07e75qokfh1224a91f to register, so the committee knows how many people to expect.
Quimby said she would especially like to hear from people who regularly bike from one community to another and learn how their routes can be improved. She also encourages people to share information about Bangor-area trails that have not been mapped or areas where new trails can be built.
“I would expect that down the road we would need to talk about things like branding and signage and all that stuff, but first of all, we have to agree that we can put together something that we can brand,” Quimby said. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: I don’t think that there’s a downside. It’s going to take persistence and work and funds and planning.”
The idea of connecting Bangor-area communities through outdoor recreation is nothing new.
Between 2007 and 2009, the Trust for Public Land led 12 Penobscot Valley communities in drawing up “ The Penobscot Valley Community Greenprint: A Regional Vision for Environmental and Economic Opportunity,” which addresses land use and conservation on a regional scale.
“The [Bangor] Land Trust, we invested a lot of time and energy on it, and we didn’t want it to just sit and gather dust on the shelf,” said Quimby. “We thought we’d take the trails piece of it because it seemed popular and something we could move ahead on.”
The plan for a regional trail system also coincides with the Active Community Teams of Bangor and Orono, groups implemented by the Community Transformation Grant to promote activity at a community level.
Corbett, who organizes Active Community Teams as the Penquis District Community Transformation Grant Coordinator, is curious to learn about people’s current perception of existing trails and bike routes, including how they can be improved.
“I think it’s really something we want the community to have ownership in,” said Corbett. “It’s part of their community — something they’re going to use regularly, maintain and grow. We want to get the people who want to be involved involved, and identify how we can move forward as a big collaboration and how individual towns can work together.”
For information, call Corbett at 992-4462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.